Tag Archives: World War II

Active Comics Collective Tactic of Warning Children

     Propaganda regarding foreign powers and its assumptions with stereotypical criminal behaviours is a result of prejudice. This paper will discuss the eighth issue of Active Comics (1942), focusing on illegal drugs in conjunction with propaganda in Canada during World War II. In Active Comics No. 8, the stories have caricatures of stereotypical Indigenous and Japanese people, in relation to drugs and other criminal behaviours. The racist undertones in comics during World War II regarding cultures untypical to  “white-European” Canadians and involving the issue of drugs (specifically cannabis and opium) should be addressed.

     The first story in the issue, “The Dixon of the Mounted,” is about a criminal investigation surrounding the illegal distribution and abuse of cannabis. As well, “Captain Red Thornton,” features Japanese caricatures in association with other forms of crime. In addition to the topic of crime, on page 16, there is a “funny page” glorifying a criminal activity. To contrast, the regular displays of prejudice, one of the stories, “ The Misadventures of Mild Will,” is the opposite of the other stereotypical stories. The story has Indigenous caricatures that could be deemed rational, are not inflicting violence, and are victims of senseless violence. The placement of this comic is used for ironic comedy. This comedy uses the opposite of what is stereotypically done in order to create humor.  

     In Active Comics No. 8, possessing illegal drugs and criminal activities, such as murder and arson, is in clear affiliation with figures of Japanese and Indigenous backgrounds. This reveals the writer’s intentions of propaganda and wartime subliminal messages. The purposeful connections insinuate that the reason for criminal activity is the characters being from foreign powers, giving the readers a preconceived political wartime stance. The objective of this research paper is to determine why these propagandistic messages were placed in children’s comics during World War II. Ultimately, the the writers’ tactics enforce the idea that drugs and foreigners were bad in a collective manner.                     

The Association of Drugs to Certain People

     “Dixon of the Mounted” by Ted Steel, reveals the highest level of stereotyping and criminalizing “foreign” peoples. In this comic, the Dixon travels to a lifeless and grim snowy landscape to find an Indigenous criminal. The illustrated Indigenous caricature that wears exaggerated traditional native clothing is being sought out because he smokes and sells marijuana – “marihuana” as its called in the story. The aboriginal man also commits other crimes due to the consumption of the drug, such as setting the cabin on fire in hopes of murdering the Dixon before being caught. Henceforth, visualization of the correspondence of marijuana with a man of a foreign background was displayed to children. The story, “Dixon of the Mounted,” are collectively meant to scare children into not smoking marijuana, due to the irrational and criminal behaviour it creates. Additionally, the comic persuades the reader to believe that Indigenous people are the influencers and the primary sources of this substance abuse.

The Stance of Canada with Native and Japanese Citizens

     Japanese and Aboriginal cultures faced much oppression during their years in Canada following World War II. Japanese immigration was brought into Canada for cheap labour, which caused opium distribution to arise as a societal issue (Boyd 26). The belief that Japanese people are the reason for drug distribution could be routed to the historical event of The Opium war between China and the British Empire (839 – 1860.) Therefore, the assumption that opium is connected to Japanese people will be derived from this historical event. Also, Canada in the 19th (and continuing shortly into the 20th century) is known to have made a negative impact on  Indigenous people due to the conditions and difficult circumstances they were put through. More specifically, during the years before World War II (roughly 1934-1943), Indigenous people in Canada were put under much supervision and isolation. This can be noted from viewing a 1936 news article titled “Canada’s Indians. The article title itself reveals the possessive approach that Canada’s government took towards Indigenous cultures; they were under “general supervision,” were “minors under the law,” and additionally, a government department called Department of Indian Affairs existed (48). Found in the National Museum of Canada, the archival book Canada’s Indian Problem, by Janness Diamond, states that “. . . to encourage any merging of the protected races with their protectors, because white people, particularly those of Anglo-Saxon . . . have strong prejudices against intermarriage with coloured peoples. (Japan, we may notice in passing, likewise discourages the intermarriage of her nationals with the Ainu)” (Diamond 379). When Active Comics No. 8 displays these cultures in a manipulative way, it caused these prejudices to influence the reader and allow the future generation of adults to have the same destructive beliefs.

Opinions with Drugs in Combination with Crime

     The legalization of marijuana in Canada took years of persuasion and debates. It has come to reality with multiple precautions and procedures in 2018. Opinions and debates dated back to the early 19th century reveal Canada’s foundation of formulating the new legalization. From this, misconceptions of drug association may arise due to miscommunication brought from fear of an unknown substance; much like the fear of unknown and foreign cultures to Canada.

     One misconception in Active Comics No. 8  is that criminal behaviour arises from smoking marijuana. Nonetheless, that belief has been statistically proven to be false in the sociological article Cannabis and Crime: Findings From a Longitudinal Study by Willy Pedersen. He proves that the use of cannabis does not lead to any continued action of criminal behaviour. Conversely, the use of cannabis-related crimes is highly apparent (Pedersen 116). It is also apparent that there is not much research surrounding the use of cannabis and non-cannabis related crimes. This implies that avoiding this research was done purposely so that it is automatically assumed that smoking marijuana was the leading cause of all crimes and not just marijuana-related offenses. The collection of the comics, also known as The Canadian Whites, represented the effects of marijuana as the causes of the comic book characters criminal commitments. To feature this, falsehoods and false evidence are presented multiple times through; action-packed, war hero and comedic stories. Active Comics has done this to display to a young audience that drugs, crime, and foreign powers, collectively and separately, are things to be afraid of. A newspaper article, “Dope Stimulation and Hot Jazz,written in 1943 by J.V McAree, said that “Crooks of various kinds are fond of [marijuana]” (McAree 8).  Also, the 1948 National Film Board documentary Drug Addict follows an inmate in jail who becomes interested in drugs. These past World War II mediums purposely highlighted criminals with marijuana and always correlate them with each other. In order for the Canadian Whites to display this as well, it is evident that extreme literary misrepresentations have to be used to stronger convey the same message.

The Reason for the Correlation
Fig. 1. Cartoon Drawing, Japanese Gentlemen Hullee Home Pleez! Canadians Here!!! 20000034-018. 1939-1945 Canadian War Museum. https://www.warmuseum.ca/collections/artifact/1361339/?q=cartoon+drawing&page_num=1&item_num=17&media_irn=3141295

     Figure 1 displays two Japanese men running from Canadians. The description to the image is: “This is a poster we had when entertaining some Canadian boys. Maple leaf is a little bit of ‘home’ you kindly sent me” (Canadian War Museum).  

    The description reveals how a source of entertainment for “Canadian boys” was another representation of Japanese caricatures being stereotypically manipulated. Figure 1 is also manipulated to sound like a Japanese accent, which further adds to the racism. The same racist illustration is also visible in the story “The Misadventures of Mild Will.” The comic manipulates the dialogue to make the caricatures emphasize their accents which insinuate their lack of intelligence. An example of the same verbiage in the comic is, “[w]hat’sa idear, buttin’in? Ah’, supposed to be the hero in this hyar comic strip!” (Steel 31). Along with in “Captain Red Thorton,” by Al Cooper, the Japanese enemies are illustrated much like in the war artifact; they both have farfetched stereotypical features (Cooper 49). The illustrations and verbiage are placed to create humor for the intended audience.

Humour is displayed in false, fabricated cliches of foreign characters

     In the war adventure story,  “Captain Red Thorton,” the “predators”, or antagonists, are Japanese characters against  ”white-European” characters. An interesting illustration from this story on the front cover of the comic is a close-up shot of a Japanese “predator.” The Japanese caricatures expression is angry; which is evident from the exaggerated lines along his face to make him seem more aggressive.

     The article “This is Our Enemy” by Paul Hirsch focuses on the comic titled All Star Comics. Hirsch talks about how the demographic and perception of the comics were race-themed mediums that were cheap sources of entertainment. Also, the article goes into detail about how choosing the medium as a source of portraying propaganda stereotypes is a universal and complex method. All Stars Comics is American, and the article was published in California. By looking at this American artifact in comparison to the Canadian comic, it is interesting to note the similarities between them. They both portray representations of the race to persuade a person to think intended messages of government manipulated messages. The reasons for North American tactics in communicating propaganda messages to children are apparent. Adults during this period would most likely be aware of the political news happening around the world and the implications of this to their home country. Children, on the other hand, would not know as much. By hinting at these political views from the country they currently reside in, they can educate the children on what to believe through comics (although it may be factual or not).

Children’s Media as a way of Communicating Propaganda
Fig. 2. Dave Fleischer (d). Max Fleischer (p). With Cab Calloway. Minnie the Moocher, 1932,Talkartoons.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7VUU_VPI1E

     The 1940s messages of propaganda are displayed in many multimedia forms. The article “Anglo-American Anti-fascist Film Propaganda in a Time of Neutrality” explains Charlie Chaplin’s film, The Great Dictator, to be an example of a manipulation of media to display wartime messages. The article also goes into to detail about what makes a propaganda film (“predator vs. prey,” “hero vs. villain”) create “mass persuasion” (Cole).

     Messages of drug use are also apparent in children’s motion pictures. In Max Fleischer’s, Minnie the Moocher, the animated characters undergo a chaotic-dreamlike scenario in which inanimate objects come to life and appear as a sort of hallucination. That movie experience creates a correlation with the sensation one may get from being under the influence drugs (fig. 2).

     After studying both of these motion pictures, one can understand why Active Comics would use a children’s medium to incorporate drugs and wartime messages as a tactic. Although this comic was on a smaller scale of popularity then these Hollywood entertainments, it still portrays the exact techniques to emphasize the message trying to be installed into youth’s minds. Minnie the Moocher displays Hollywood’s creation of the fascination of substance use in a way that is appealing to children (by using cartoons, comedy, and catchy music). The same question of why Max Fleischer decided to create Minnie the Moocher is similar to the question of why The Canadian Whites created certain stories in Active Comics. Both children targeting mediums display content that seems to be confidential to children, giving much insight into the creator’s intentions of the audience.

        The government’s way of trying to communicate with the youth of WWII is proven to be useful in current studies. This is because using comic books helps children explore their creativity, be entranced in the comic book character’s adventures, and stimulate visual senses according to the article, “The Native Comic Book Project: Native Youth Making Comics and Healthy Decisions. This article discusses the positive impact that comic books have on Indigenous children who may suffer consequences of substance abuse or other mentally harming encounters.

Manipulation of Children for Wartime Efforts

     After examining all of Active Comics No. 8 and cross-referencing adult mediums of WWII (newspapers, films, articles) to the content found in the comic, Canadian government intentions become clear. By collectively showing drugs, negative displays of foreign figures and actions of hate in crime fighting and adventure stores, a child may be manipulated to believe that all of these fabrications are believable. From this, that child may now be more heavily interested and inclined to participate in wartime activities, whether it be by becoming physically involved in the war or sharing the message that war is good. Youth become more involved and informed stance in political behaviours. Active Comics displayed content to children that were intended to create humor and action while simultaneously warning them of crimes by manipulating Canada’s oppressed races, and ergo, creating both motive and bias in children’s effort in the war.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Works Cited

Boyd, Neil. “Anti- Asiatic riots led to Canada’s first anti-drug laws in 1908.” Canadian           Speeches, July 2001, p. 26. Academic OneFile ,       http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A79352921/ZONE?u=rpu_main&sid=ZONE xid=5dd3c4e6

Cartoon Drawing, Japanese Gentlemen  Hullee Home Pleez! Canadians Here!!! Canadian    War Museum, 1939-1945. www.warmuseum.ca/collections/artifact/1361339/?q=cartoon drawing&page_num=1&item_num=17&media_irn=3141295.

Cole, Robert. “Anglo-American Anti-Fascist Film Propaganda in a Time of Neutrality: The Great Dictator, 1940.” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 21, no. 2, June 2001, pp.  137–52. https://doi.org/10.1080/014396801200 51488 .

Fleischer, Max, and Willard Bowsky. “Minnie the Moocher.Youtube, Talkertoons, 11 Mar 1932,          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaZOXF83zBg

Hirsch, Paul. “‘This Is Our Enemy’: The Writers 2019; War Board and Representations of Race in Comic Books, 1945.” Pacific Historical Review 83, no. 3, 2014, pp.  448–86.

Malleck, Dan. When Good Drugs Go Bad: Opium, Medicine, and the Origins of Canada’s Drug Laws. Vancouver, CANADA: UBC Press, 2015. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ryerson/detail.action?docID=3440661

Legault, E.T. (w) and M. Karn (a). “Dixon of the Mountain.” Active Comics , no. 8, March 1942, pp. 1-9. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Legault, E.T. (w) and M. Karn (a). “The Misadventures of Mild Will.” Active Comics , no. 8, March, 1942, pp. 1-9. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Montgomery, Michelle, Brenda Manuelito, Carrie Nass, Tami Chock, and Dedra Buchwald. “The Native Comic Book Project: Native Youth Making Comics and Health Decisions.” Journal of Cancer Education 27,  2012, pp. 41–46. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13187-012-0311-x .

Pedersen, Willy, and Torbjà ̧rn Skardhamar. “Cannabis and Crime: Findings from a LongitudinalStudy: Cannabis and Crime.” Addiction 105, 2010 pp. 109–18.https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02719.x .

Writer, Linton Burkett Post Staff. “Marihuana Dangerous, Agents Say: Drug Loses Urge                 Leading to Crime; Results Worse Than Opium Derivatives.” The Washington Post (1923-1954); Washington, D.C. July 13, 1943.

 

 

 

 

On Paper and The Front Lines: WWII Heroes in Relation to Wow Comics no. 15

Introduction

The Second World War produced a great number of heroes including soldiers who fought to protect their country, along with mothers and children who supported the soldiers from the home front. At the same time, comics were produced on the home front by new Canadian publishers, eager to provide content to Canadians who no longer had access to those from Canada’s primary trade partner. In his book, Invaders from the North, John Bell describes the comic medium as an “ultimate form of communication” (15), one that was able to convey to young readers during World War II an image of what a hero resembles. These heroes were provided to children to mirror the soldiers who fought for them in WWII. In Wow Comics No. 15, the fictional heroes produced during the golden age of comics demonstrate the patriotic, selfless and courageous traits of the real heroes of WWII, as depicted by Whiz Wallace, Crash Carson, and Dart Daring.

Origins of Canadian Comics

Canadian comic books flourished during the Second World War. After the outbreak of the war, the War Exchange Conservation Act was established in December of 1940 to strength the Canadian dollar and to protect the economy. It restricted all non-essential goods from being imported from the United States, including comic books (Bell, Invaders 43). As a result, an influx of publishers entered the industry, and they began creating Canadian comics without competition from American content. They produced the “Canadian Whites”, which were known for their coloured covered and black and white pages. These comics were produced at an expedited pace in order to fill the gap that was now present in the Canadian industry.

In late 1942, a comic book titled Canadian Heroes was created by Educational Projects of Montreal to provide “more wholesome and edifying fare” for children (Bell, Canuck Comics, 26). It was an informative comic that featured profiles of political leaders in Canada, such as Prime Ministers, governor generals, and RCMP cases. Eventually, publishers “came to realize that Canadian children had developed an appetite for somewhat more thrilling narratives” (Bell Invaders 50). They then began to create additional content of fictional Canadian heroes, which provided children their very own set of heroes to look up to. They paved the way for other publishers to use reality as inspiration for their heroic protagonists during this bleak period in Canadian history.

Cy Bell, his brother Gene, and Edmund Legault produced the adventure comic, Wow Comics. During the 1930s, the brothers owned an art firm by the name of Commercial Signs of Canada. After hearing of the ban on comic books, Cy Bell contacted Legault, who had previously shown interest in working on a comic book together, and they began producing Wow (Bell, Invaders 48). The first issue was very successful, selling nearly 50, 000 copies (Bell 25). John Bell observes, “at no time since have English Canadian children grown up with such a wide array of indigenous heroes and superheroes” (Invaders 54). The comics provided a source of heroes for the children, motivating them to support the war effort.

Heroes on The Front Lines

During World War Two, heroes were not only fictional; the war was a catalyst that produced selfless individuals, who were patriotic towards their country and courageous in fighting for a safer nation. Of the Canadian servicemen who fought, very few had experience in the military prior to the war (Engen 25). Many individuals who came to serve in the war became known as “citizen soldiers,” as they were amateur combatants who usually had volunteered for the war effort (Engen 34). They were seen as superior to those who were conscripted as a belief was held that “citizens should provide their own defence” (Engen 34). Citizens were encouraged to join the war effort on their own account, without being required to do so.

Individuals who volunteered for the war were much more revered than those who were conscripted. The soldiers who served overseas, were almost all volunteers; Canada had the second largest all volunteer field force, after Britain, during the war (Engen 33). For most of the war, those who were conscripted remained on the home front, ready to fight for the defence of the country. The National Resources Mobilization Act (NRMA) was issued in 1940 in order to provide defence for Canada. The soldiers “mobilized” under this act were not required to serve overseas, at least not for the majority of the war (Engen 33). It was thought that only soldiers who had volunteered of their own free will should serve overseas.

Many soldiers who did sign up to serve were the children of veterans of World War One. These soldiers were influenced to volunteer because of their family connections to war and the pressure to serve (Engen 30). In Strangers in Arms, Robert Engen describes a soldier named Charles “Chuck” Daniel Lloyd, whose father had served and died in the First World War, and whose older brother had been a peacetime militiaman (Engen 37). Although the soldier’s reasons for joining the war were not recorded, Engen theorizes that his family connections with war were a cause for him joining the war effort. Lloyd joined his brother in the Hastings & Prince Edward Regiment of the militia and together they enlisted upon the declaration of war in 1939 (Engen 37). Lloyd, who died in 1943, was an example of an individual who was motivated by past generations, and who no doubt influenced the next generation of soldiers.

Among the real-life heroes of the war, was an individual who saved a small Dutch town, called Wilnis, from harmful destruction. On May 4, 1943, Warrant Officer Robert Moulton set off with almost 600 bombers for a raid on Dortmund Germany (Wattie 2). Upon turning home, his plane was attacked by a German bomber and began to burn (Wattie 2). As it descended, he instructed his four crew members to eject, though only two of them were able to parachute to safety (Wattie 2). Witnesses reported that Warrant Officer Moulton’s bomber was directed at their village, but suddenly banked away from it (Wattie 2). Moulton demonstrated selflessness as he sacrificed his life for the lives of the civilians in the town. According to one captain, “this still has a great impression on the citizens; In their mind, Moulton was a hero” (2). Volunteers like Lloyd and Moulton demonstrate the attributes that Wow Comics sought to illustrate to children through the fictional heroes they created. In demonstrating these characteristics, the comics were preparing the soldiers of the next by presenting them with the heroes and roles models they needed to look up to. They sought to raise the next generation of soldiers, modelled on the fictional characters of the comic.

Heroes on Paper

In Wow Comics no. 15, the heroic protagonists demonstrate selflessness, patriotism and courage in an effort to teach children the exemplary qualities they should exhibit. In “Whiz Wallace and The Desert Demon,” Whiz Wallace and Elaine are travelling through the desert, trying to reach ‘El Frasher. When Elaine expresses her concerns for their lengthy journey, Whiz Wallace reassures her by saying “Courage, Elaine!” and offers her a cooling drink to refresh her. They are confronted by a group of wild horsemen who plan on stealing their horses, and Elaine. Whiz selflessly attacks some of the men, even though he is outnumbered and unarmed. He attacks them, using only his fists, while the desert men have large knives and guns. Though he fights heroically, he is eventually overpowered.

Whiz Wallace is tied up by the desert men, while Elaine is restrained. As Elaine is pleading for their lives, a unit of German bombers fly overhead and notice the desert men, “Himmel! Two white people is being tortured by desert savages!” (Legault 17). They decide to rescue the two from the desert men, and then take them as prisoners of war. Even when facing more danger, Whiz remains heroic and brave. The Nazis who capture them declare that their Fuehrer has a plan of invasion, and will strike soon. Whiz counters “All I have to say is, your Fuehrer better not be too sure of himself!” (Legault 19).  Whiz is portrayed as confident in his country’s ability to defeat the Nazis, even though he is being detained by them. He exhibits heroic qualities that illustrate to children to be courageous and selfless in order to protect others, and support their country.

In “Crash Carson and His Devil’s Angels,” Crash Carson is fearless and courageous as he takes on Nazis and German bombers. Carson and two other soldiers attack a group of Nazis to prevent them from getting away. Carson’s sidekick, Tank, throws a grenade, and the three of them charge the Nazis. Later, Crash and the other soldiers encounter another group of Nazis who are armed with a machine gun. One of the soldiers drives straight for the Nazis as Crash and Tank fire at them.

Crash Carson yelling "I'll stop him!"
Tremblay, Jack. “Crash Carson and His ‘Devil’s Angels.’” Wow Comics, no. 15, 1943, pp. 26-35.
Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166677.pdf

At the height of the story, a Nazi escapes and tries to steal one of their allied planes. Crash Carson runs after him immediately to prevent the Nazi from escaping and harming others. He puts himself at risk in order to save the lives of those the German may hurt. By running to stop the German from taking their bomber, Crash Carson is teaching children to be courageous in supporting the fight against the Nazis, and to be patriotic in fighting for their country. Crash Carson, after defeating the Nazi, takes control of the bomber as he and another soldier come under fire. They defeat the German bomber, but then are mistaken by their ally to be an enemy bomber, but Crash Carson saves them again using his piloting skills. This illustrates Crash Carson’s ability to think and act under pressure while they are being attacked by the enemy. As a hero, he demonstrates courage in the face of danger as he puts himself in harms way to avoid potentially harmful situations from becoming onto others.

Dart Daring scales a wall to save Loraine
Legault, E. T. “Dart Daring: The Castle in the Sea.” Wow Comics, no. 15, 1943, pp.47-55.
Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166677.pdf

Dart Daring in “Dart Daring and The Castle in The Sea” exhibits courage and selflessness as he tries to rescue Loraine after hearing her scream. Dart Daring is thrown into the water after their ship hits a castle in the middle of the sea. After being tossed overboard, Dart is shown sinking into the sea, with one panel only showing his hand above the water. His companions, Loraine, the captain and Frank, enter the mysterious castle after a drawbridge is let down for them. They mistakenly believe that whoever lowered the bridge, would help them find “the brave sir Daring.” His companions are then trapped inside the castle, and suddenly Dart resurfaces from the water. Though his own life is in danger, Dart is concerned about Loraine when he hears her scream from beyond the now closed drawbridge, within the castle. Upon hearing her scream, Dart courageously scales the wall, with shaking fingers, in order to selflessly rescue the damsel in distress. After almost drowning in the sea, Dart emerges ready to save Loraine from the “great danger” she may be in.

Conclusion

During the Second World War, heroes existed in real life and on paper. The fictional heroes of Wow Comics no. 15 were created to illustrate the heroic features that soldiers demonstrated during the war, in order to raise children and adolescents to exhibit those qualities. The soldiers of the front lines, and the protagonists of the comics displayed selflessness, patriotism, and courage in the face of their opponents. Whiz Wallace, Crash Carson and Dart Daring exemplify the same qualities of WWII soldiers, and provided role models for children. They helped to raise individuals who cared about and protected others, were brave in all situations, and who were loyal and supportive of their country. The heroes of the frontlines and those on paper helped to create future heroes.

Works Cited

Bell, John. Canuck Comics. Matrix Books, 1986.

Bell, John. Invaders from the North: How Canada Conquered the Comic Book Universe. The Dundurn Group, 2006.

Engen, Robert. Strangers in Arms: Combat motivation in the Canadian Army, 1943-1945. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016.

Legault, E. T. “Dart Daring: The Castle in the Sea.” Wow Comics, no. 15, 1943, pp.47-55. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166677.pdf

Legault, E. T. “Whiz Wallace and The Desert Demons.” Wow Comics, no. 15, 1943, pp. 12-20. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166677.pdf

Tremblay, Jack. “Crash Carson and His ‘Devil’s Angels.’” Wow Comics, no. 15, 1943, pp. 26-35. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166677.pdf

Wattie, Chris. “Last of Doomed Bomber Excavated: World War II Mission: Canadian Pilot Praised as Hero for Steering Plane Away from Dutch Town.” National Post, September 2002. http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/docview/330182777?accountid=13631.

Native Americans & Colonial Racist Stereotypes in 1940’s WOW Comics no. 10

INTRODUCTION

Native Americans are now known for being spiritual, environmental, and nomads and unfortunately, colonizers have used stereotypes to create an alternate assumed identity with this knowledge. Previous to now the stereotypes of the Native identity was wrong, but as time has progressed it has slowly corrected itself. Thanks to the education high school now offers on the basics of native heritage and history stereotypical aspects have faded slightly and the presumed slights have become less prominent. This is a step in the right direction to reconciliation for the atrocities Indigenous North American communities have faced, from residential schools to cultural assimilation to the numerous issues surrounding reserves and broken treaties.

The “right step forward” to reconciliation mentality in North American society has not always prevalent in history. Throughout the 1800 and the 1900s, First Nations fought and defended Canada in both World Wars but were not given the right to vote. Indigenous people were consistently depicted as the enemy in mass consumed media even in medias geared towards children. In the collection of comics called the “Canadian Whites,” it was common to find this villainous depiction. Even more so it was common to see the reliability these comics had on racist, propagandistic stereotypes of the Indigenous community. In order to understand this racism, analyzing how Canada has treated Native Americans in the past will explain how these people and society interacted. Researching into the specific comic “WOW, no. 10” (published in January of 1942) and the origins of the racism found in this specific comic created numerous questions.

Why is the native populace depicted in mass consumed media negatively and in a severely racist way without the care for separate tribal identities? Even with Native Americans aiding the war effort greatly through enlistment the government refused to acknowledge the help until much later. Instead, deciding to show off propagandistic comics that portrayed “true” Canadians to be solely white Canadians who are superior and used this belief to fuel what the government of past and present 1940s wanted for Canada’s imagined future. Examining the Native influence on Canada prior, during, and after the war, the understanding of how this racism and altered depiction of Natives will become more clear and highlight that the imagined identity was a predominantly white, European, Christian population. All those who were not these characteristics, be it those who were First Nations or otherwise, were to be expunged or assimilated.

THE IMAGE OF THE “RED SKINNED SAVAGE”

In the short story found in WOW no. 10 called “The Iroquois are Back,” by Kathleen Williams, the time period revolves around the mid 1600s. The features three young men; Henri, Jaques, and Louis, all who venture out of the community against previous discretion due to “red devils,” the Iroquois being seen in the surrounding area. First Nations people have survived on this land for thousands of years, promoting spirituality and prosperity. As colonization became the dominant identity to cultivate the land for its resources, Native Americans became closed off on reserves, far off from society all while colonizers lived on the ground that the tribes once claimed. The use of ‘red devil’ is used as a depictor of the red undertone skin (a racist stereotype of First Nations people) and disassociates any good inherent reason for the Iroquois to be in the area or attack. It makes Indigenous people the enemy before they had really caused any issues, an enemy who is weaker and less formidable than other white people.

Colonization created a bias against Natives and that is shown when Henri, Jaques, and Louis single-handedly kill Natives for over two hours, a feat that is then congratulated when they are rescued by others from their community. They slaughtered many Native Americans to represent that they are protecting themselves from the “red deviled savage.” The murder of people was celebrated because they were the antagonist of the story for existing in an area that was once theirs solely. They were villainous for existing as Indigenous tribes and people were viewed as “primitive, strange and alien” (Sangster. 191-200) and were shamed for acting like “the behavior of the Eskimo.”(Sangster. 1991 200) The actions and values of the First Nations were shamed as the “cultural hierarchy that cast white, Euro-Canadian modernity as preferable and superior” (Sangster. 191-200) was always considered better.

This “savagery” is seen again in the story “Jeff Waring” by Murray Karn when the Native chief and his soldiers arrive on a Native war canoe and automatically it’s assumed that the natives torture and kill them. It then progresses to Jeff Waring, and his friends being tied to be burnt at the stake and are only saved when the chief’s son is cured by the “white man’s” medicine. Savagery is assumed in the comic just as common nature for the  Indigenous creating only negative, primitive depictions of the supposed tribe. The need to immediately resort to burning them on the fire as an act of savagery and then only transitioning from an evil portrayal when the white man’s medicine is used to help save the chief’s son paints all tribes as primitive. It all relies on the dependence for progress that the colonizer can bring to the Indigenous community.

CREATING MIXED CULTURES

The war changed many aspects of society, altering acceptance and economic prosperity. The decriminalization of Japanese Canadians who were put into internment camps and Italian immigrants were no longer viewed as “enemy alien” after 1947. 

Enemy aliens “referred to people from countries, or with roots in countries, that were at war with Canada…. during the Second World War, people with Japanese, German and Italian ancestry.” (Patricia Roy, Canadian Encyclopedia) This was not something that transferred to Native Americans, who by this point still were not given the right to vote federally (July 1, 1960 legislation passed to federally vote) and were viewed in disregard as during the war. This lack of acceptance was shown best in the depiction of two separate tribes; the Iroquois and a tribe from the Amazon. They have no relation to one another in any way be it physical, environmental, time period, nor are in the same story of the comic book yet look identical to each other in both the “Jeff Waring” and “The Iroquois Are Back.” These outfits are identical in the comics, both using similar furs and feathers.

Traditionally the Iroquois used “furs obtained from the woodland animals, hides of elk and deer.” (Kanatiyosh. 1999) whereas Amazonian tribes wear woven plant-based clothing or body paint. This was common especially during the time period of “Jeff Waring” as the cloth used by westerners was harder to make and obtain. This is due to the temperature difference and the cultural significance of clothing. Traditionally in the Amazon the fewer clothes one would wear the higher the rank in the tribe similar to the more body paint worn the higher the rank as well. Whereas clothing in the Iroquois tribe is beaded, has bells, and sewn on designs to show rank as the weather in Canada is much more frigid, especially in the 1600s when the comic “the Iroquois are back” takes place.

This link of identicality is seen in the way the faces are constructed in the illustrations. Both drawings have shown Natives with high cheekbones, dark eyes, large foreheads. These identities, that are very different, look identical for the purpose to show that all Natives are the same in appearance, culture and savagery. This represents ideas of assimilation into colonization as the Native community was not even worth an actual identity and instead is just clumped together as one. This ideology of missing individuality was the “ultimate goal of eliminating the “Indian” as an entity apart from the mainstream of Canadian society.” (Sheffield. 17) The lack of identity also shows that they are less superior to those who have actual defining features and differences, specifically that they are less important, in both the comic and real life than the white westerners.

THE MOCCASINS ON THE GROUND.

In the comic book as a whole, there is not a single mention of positive actions that the Native Americans had done. During “The Iroquois are Back” it depicts violence as if that is all the Natives are capable of with statements such as “the Indians closed in for the kill, hatchets raised, tomahawks waving.” (Williams. 29) War heroes are the pride of a nation and meant to hold their heads up with glory. They receive medals, are put on the local news at six, and written about in the paper. All acts of heroism during these wars are assumed to have already been discussed except there is never any mention of the aid the Indigenous tribes provided to the war effort.

Violence is promoted in the comic as second nature to the Natives but highlights nothing of the violence that some Natives were told to do while enlisted. It promotes a figurative “one-sided” coin alluding to this being only true depiction with accuracy as to how Indigenous tribes act. This ideology is further emphasized during “Jeff Waring” where the first interaction with the Indigenous tribe in the Amazon was a war canoe approaching the heroes boat. Instantly, the Natives are a threat once again. This portrayal has created conflict as there was, during its publication, Natives fighting for Canada in Europe. With no mention as to Indigenous men and women in the military, it has “resulted in narratives that are selective, partial, biased and distorted” (Harvey et al. 257) Natives were known in the armed forces for “voluntary enlistment and conscription of thousands of First Nations men.” (Sheffield. 43) The Society of American Indians, a group that helped the fight for Native rights to citizenship, even went as far as to put in their Journal that “Already we hear the tread of feet that once wore moccasins; already the red men are enlisting.” (Sabol. 268) Yet the history books have erased their participation as until later in the search for the Canadian identity was it acceptable to be native. The narrative stayed consistently negative until the tropes and stereotypes that are found in the comics became less politically correct closer to the beginning of the 2000s and were filtered out.

RECONCILIATION

Reconciling on past governmental and societal mistakes is an everyday goal in Canada as the acknowledgment of Native cultural genocide becomes more well known across the country. In doing this, images and tales such as those found in “the Iroquois are Back” and “Jeff Waring” become slowly more obsolete. There have been recent steps backward such as Johnny Depp in the movie “The Lone Ranger” but as the populace began to understand the sacrifices that Native Americans have suffered at the hands of colonization and it has become a topic more serious and more informed. Reconciliation started in Canada and the United States when the US granted citizenship to Native Americans as “Congress passed the law to reward Indians for their service and commitment to the country at a time of great need.” (Steven. 268) Unfortunately, all efforts were put on pause during the 1930s as it was the Great Depression. Tensions were rising in Europe which forced reconciliation to be pushed back until the 1960s, when voting in Canada federally was granted to all Native Americans. After that historical event that came into effect July 1, 1960, reconciliation has tardily progressed into slow positive change.

IN CONCLUSION

In the creation of Canada, Native American people have been treated as second-class citizens and have been the public enemy for an extended amount of time. From the fight to conserve their traditions and values to the consistent work towards continued reconciliation. As society progressed to be more inclusive, once again Natives were left in the dust and forced to continue the fight for equality. The images, text and subliminal messages in the comic book WOW comics no. 10 are present due to consistent colonial influence and racist stereotypes that emerged from that time period, continuing even to this day. The results of reconciliation have slowly chipped away at these stereotypes but these remarks still leave a lasting mark on the Native community in Canada.

WORKS CITED

Sheffield, R. Scott. The Red Man’s on the Warpath. UBC Press, 2004. pp 43 https://books-scholarsportal-info.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/en/read?id=/ebooks/ebooks0/gibson_crkn/2009-12-01/3/404358 Accessed 10 Oct. 2018.

Karn, Murray. “Jeff Waring.” Wow Comics, no.10. pp 15-25, http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166673.pdfaccessed 10 Oct. 2018.

Williams, Kathleen. “The Iroquois are Back.” Wow Comics, no.10. pp 27-29, http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166673.pdfaccessed 10 Oct. 2018.

Sabol, Steven. “In search of citizenship: the society of American Indians and the First World War.” Oregon Historical Quarterly, 22 June 2017, p. 268+. Academic OneFile, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/apps/doc/A499696071/AONE?u=rpu_main&sid=AONE&xid=0c276e89. Accessed 10 Oct. 2018.

Raynald, Harvey L., et al. “Conflicts, Battlefields, Indigenous Peoples and Tourism: Addressing Dissonant Heritage in Warfare Tourism in Australia and North America in the Twenty-First Century.” International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, vol. 7, no. 3, 2013, pp. 257-271. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/docview/1412780619?accountid=13631. Accessed October 16/2018.

Sangster, Joan. “The Beaver as Ideology: Constructing Images of Inuit and Native Life in Post-World War II Canada.” Anthropologica, vol. 49, no. 2, 2007, pp. 191-209. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/docview/214174078?accountid=13631. Accessed October 16, 2018.

Sheffield, R. Scott. “Veterans’ Benefits and Indigenous Veterans of the Second World War in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.” Wicazo Sa Review, vol. 32 no. 1, 2017, pp. 63-79. Project MUSE muse.jhu.edu/article/674309 Accessed October 16, 2018.

Kanatiyosh. “Iroquois Regalia.” Haudenosaunee Children’s Page. 1999. http://tuscaroras.com/graydeer/pages/childrenspage.htm Accessed November 20, 2018.

WORKS CITED: PHOTOS

ALL PHOTOS FALL UNDER FAIR USE POLICY. RYERSON UNIVERSITY IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGES CAUSED.

Brazilian Natives in Traditional Clothing. *Royalty free* Released free of copyrights under creative commons CC0. https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1254856 Accessed November 12, 2018.

Fair use expired copyright- “The Iroquois are Back.” Wow Comics, no.10. pp 29, http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.chttp://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166673.pdfa/e/e447/e011166673.pdfaccessed 10 Oct. 2018.

Fair use expired copyright- Goody, Edmond. WOW Comics, no.10 Front Cover page. January. 1942. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166673.pdfAccessed November 12, 2018.

Identifying the Robot as the Enemy in Active Comics: No. 15

© Copyright 2018 Natalia Orasanin, Ryerson University

Introduction

In the midst of the Second World War, the growing trade deficit Canada experienced with the United States resulted in the Canadian government implementing the War Exchange Conservation Act, in an effort to stabilize the Canadian dollar (Bell 1). Canada banned all imports that were considered non-essential, deeming books and comics as luxury items  (Nguyen 1). As a result, Canadian publishers began producing their own comics books, referred to as The Canadian Whites, due to their black and white interiors (Bell 1). Although the production and sale of Canadian Whites such as Active Comics, Commando Comics, and Dime Comics plummeted after the ban was lifted near the end of the war, these comics can be viewed as a portal or window to Canadian society during wartime. Superhero characters were especially popular for soldiers on front lines, representing strength and patriotism — the same characteristics associated with soldiers during the war (Babic 111). Therefore, the character representation in comics provides a glimpse at the historical attitudes and perspectives of the time in which they were produced (Babic 111). Additionally, many comics reflect the anxieties surrounding war time, including the shifting roles of women in society, fears of losing the war to Axis powers, pressure on increased production, and related issues (Babic 111).

I will be examining the ways in which robots are portrayed throughout Active Comics: No. 15. (1944), specifically three key areas: “King Fury and the Robot Menace,” (22 – 28) the front cover, as well as an activity page that prompts the reader to identify all of the hidden robots throughout the issue (11). In the same way that the public view of soldiers was associated with superhero characters, robots in the comic are much more than merely characters, they function as mirrors to the representations of Axis powers during wartime. In this essay, I will show how the portrayal of robots as mechanic, mindless followers is representative of the way Germans and other Axis powers were viewed during the Second World War, and how this portrayal was utilized in comics and newspapers in order to identify the enemy within popular discourse. Further, the identification of the robot as the enemy highlights the resemblance between the activity page and government propaganda during World War II, both instructing individuals to remain on the look out for enemies who are under the control of a dangerous leader.

The “Robot” and the Enemy

The term “robot” was incredibly common in public discourse and Canadian newspapers during World War II. “Robot” appears hundreds of times in The Toronto Daily Star, The Globe and Mail, Hamilton Spectator and many other news sources. Notably, in these articles the word is excessively used to describe members of the Axis powers. In an article, titled “Human Robots” by George Axelsson featured in the Globe and Mail, both the terms “civilian robots” and  “a senseless robot, mechanically obeying his master’s voice” are used to describe the Germans (Axelsson 1). Comparatively, in an article in the Hamilton Spectator, Japanese soldiers are described as having the mentality of robots, completely dependant upon commanding officers and “helpless” without their guidance (“Nothing to Fear From Jap Entry; Men But Robots”). Additional terms found in articles range from “Nazi robots,” “Robots of the German airforce, [who need] a slave – driving general to tell them what to do,” to describing Germans as “slaves” and British pilots as “free men, self – reliant and ground in the dignity of manhood” (“Knights on Winged Steeds”). These terms are all degrading and speak to the lack of agency and mindlessness associated with robots, relating these attributes to the Germans and the Japanese Axis powers.  Another way in which the word robot is used in these articles is in reference to the robot bomb, even coincidentally a 1944 article titled “Menace of the Robot Bomb” in the Globe and Mail. The robot bomb, created by the Germans, is essentially a pilotless bombing aircraft specifically designed to attack the British. The fact that it is pilotless, and unmanned is important as it is a machine that is set out to perform a particular task, decided by those in possession of it. Parallels are also drawn when one takes into consideration that the robot bomb is a an aerial bomb, and that in the comic “King Fury and the Robot Menace” the Germans escape with the robot menace on a soundproof plane that King Fury and the Canadian Military cannot detect (28). In the comic, the robot is considered “good” when in the possession of the Americans, and “bad” when in the possession of the Germans, indicating that the “goodness” or “success” of the machine is completely dependant upon who has control. Seeing as the Germans had predominant control of the robot bombs, and they gain control of the robot in the comic, the robot symbolizes  an empty vessel for potential evil.

The Robot Menace

When comparing the portrayal of robots within World War II newspapers to Active Comics,  the identification of the robot as the enemy is present in the comic “King Fury and the Robot Menace” by Kurly Lipas, as well as the front cover. King Fury pays a visit to Dr. Tone and his daughter Tonee, and is welcomed by a robot identified as Dr. Tone’s newest invention (23). Dr. Tone is excited about the robot, as he can exercise his control over the robot with a remote control, stating that the government can make great use of his invention (23). It was not uncommon in the wartime for robots to be used as symbols for the portrayal of the enemy, as psychologically, many individuals associate robots with manufacturing and militarization (Cheng 1). In her analysis of Kakoudaki’s Anatomy of a Robot, Jennifer Rhee writes that robots are often a mechanical reflection/representation of our own human bodies, and our vulnerability to being controlled by forces external to us (Rhee 408). Further drawing from literary examples, Kakoudaki states that robots are often used to provide labour through elements of control, and that this relationship between the robot and the possessor brings forth notions of dehumanization, objectification and slavery (Rhee 409). In “King Fury and the Robot Menace,” this element of control is largely prevalent as the German’s overlooking Dr. Tone’s home break in to steal the robot. When they enter Dr. Tone’s home, Dr. Tone is so busy directing the robot that one of the Germans knocks him out and gains possession of the remote control. The robot then attacks King Fury and the Germans escape on a soundless plane with the robot, undetected by King Fury or the military (27). The robot in the story demonstrates no sense of agency, and surrenders completely to the individual in possession of the remote control. Control implies that the robot can be in the wrong hands, and Dr. Tone’s distraction when directing the robot to follow him as the Germans invade his home is ultimately the reason he is caught off guard and gets the remote control taken away from him. When the robot attacks Dr. Tone and King Fury as a result of this, the robot also becomes the enemy. Furthermore, the front cover of the issue features a terrified young woman in the arms of a robot that appears as though it is going to hurt her. Yet again, the robot is not captured in any positive light, and the human being is innocent and under the threat of the robot. The cover illustrates the identification of the robot as an enemy, and subsequently the fear of this enemy.

Destroying the Robot Menace

Cover, Active Comics No. 15, January 1944, Bell Features Publishing.
Dingle, Adrian. Cover, Active Comics No. 15, January 1944, Bell Features Publishing. 

There is no denying a rhetorical trend in newspapers describing Axis powers as being robotic, mechanized, thoughtless, and incredibly vulnerable to external influence and control. In “King Fury and the Robot Menace,” the German agents are often being commanded. For starters, it appears as though they are on a mission to steal the robot to bring back to Germany, commanded by an authoritative figure. When in possession of the remote control, the German agent states, “It’s as if I were the robot itself” (24). Ultimately, this quote suggests a mirroring between the German agent and the robot, that is only reinforced by the reverse shot sequence of the Nazi attacking Tonee, and the robot attacking King Fury, both of them striking the other in the head (26). In this way, the robot and the German operate as one in the same. The comic creates these parallels yet again in the second last panel, when King Fury tells Tonee, “If the Nazis ever build up an army of those robots our boys would have no chance against them… somehow with my strength and God’s help, I’ll destroy the robot menace” (28). Language plays a key role here, as the comic features the heroic character King Fury, who “Utilizes his great strength to help destroy the axis dictators,” and “Pits his strength and wits against the robot menace” (22). The term “menace” used to describe the robot directly implies a negative connotation, whereas the terms “King,” “strengths” and “wits” used to describe King Fury attribute his man power to goodness, identifying King Fury as the hero. Moreover, when one of the German agents says “Dis vill be a great day for the Reich,” (in reference to the Third Reich) on the plane, the text only reaffirms the rhetoric that these men are under the control of a leader and carrying out an instructed task. 

Spot the Robots 

"Even Under This Friendly Roof There May Be Enemy Ears." Wartime Security Poster, 1939 - 1945. Canadian War Museum.
“Even Under This Friendly Roof There May Be Enemy Ears.” Wartime Security Poster, 1939 – 1945. Canadian War Museum.

Seeing as the comic establishes the robot as an enemy that the protagonists fear, it is also important to note the preventative measures the comic is advocating for in resistance of these enemies, and how this is a reflection of World War II government propaganda. Comics were often directly marketed to children due to their cheap price, accessible narratives, adventure and sense of escapism (Babic 14). Many of the messages found in the comics directly correlated with the roles children had in society during that time. When the war started, new responsibilities were given to children as their parents either entered the workforce or left to fight overseas (Cook 1). Children were considered involved in the war effort, with posters around schools encouraging children to be on the lookout for spies and to avoid spilling any information or talk that would help the enemy (Cook 1). Spy work as an activity is exemplified on page 11 of Active Comics: No. 15, as the page features a competition titled, “How Many Robots can you Find on the Cover” (11). The competition asks readers to tear off the cover of the comic and circle all of the robots that they can find, looking at every “figure, tree, rock, boat, gun, etc” (11). The page illustrates the activity of being on the lookout for robots, as they may be hiding. Seeing as the robots are portrayed in a negative light throughout the entirety of the comic, the activity speaks to being perceptive and on the lookout for the enemy. The responsibility that is being put on the reader in this comic is exemplified in much of the propaganda regarding security during World War II in Canada. As demonstrated in the “Wartime Security” poster, there was a climate of fear built on the notion that the Germans were constantly listening, stating that enemy ears could be everywhere. Thus, propaganda instructed individuals to look beneath the surface, look out for enemies, and to police themselves in order to ensure national security. The comic does this in the form of  a competition, but it is nevertheless the same idea of surveying others due to a fear that has been ingrained in the individual based on the idea that the enemies can be anywhere. 

Conclusion

The portrayal of the robots within the issue relates to the narratives that dominated government propaganda and newspapers at the time, tying into a much larger representation of the axis powers within the media. Just on the cover, the issue establishes the threat, featuring a woman being defeated by a robot, surrounded by rubble. The portrayal of the robot in “King Fury and the Robot Menace” as being entirely susceptible to control and whose sole purpose is as an object controlled to achieve a means to an end calls to mind the discourse of the time comparing the Germans and Japanese as being controlled by an evil leader, machine like in their actions. Robots as machine like and in the possession of the enemy can also be viewed as a symbol for the robot bombs during World War II and the climate of fear perpetuated by these pilotless bombs, used heavily by the Germans. Overall, the use of robots in Active Comics: No. 15 establishes the enemy as a looming threat, challenging the reader to search for the robots just as children and adults were told to survey those around them. The activity page, when combined with the portrayal of robots throughout the issue, suggests that the enemy was using unassuming vessels to perform dangerous tasks, that could be found everywhere and anywhere, successfully heightening the public’s paranoia towards them.


Works Cited

Axelsson, George. “Human Robots.” Globe and Mail, 13 November 1944.  Democracy at War:  Canadian Newspapers and the Second World War, Canadian War Museum.

Babic, Annessa Ann.  Comics as History, Comics as Literature : Roles of the Comic Book in Scholarship, Society, and Entertainment, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2014. ProQuest, doi: 978-1-61147-557-9.

Bell, John. “Comic Books in English Canada.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. 8 July 2015. www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/comic-books-in-english-canada.

Cook, Tim. “Canadian Children and the Second World War.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. 12 April 2016. www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/canadian-children-and- wwii.

Cheng, Ching-Ching, Kuo-Hung Huang, and Siang-Mei Huang. “Exploring Young Children’s Images on Robots.” Advances in Mechanical Engineering, vol. 9, no. 4, 2017. ProQuest, doi: 10.1177/1687814017698663.

Dingle, Adrian, et al. Active Comics: No. 15. Bell Features and Publishing Company Limited, 1944. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

“Even Under This Friendly Roof There May Be Enemy Ears.” Canadian War Museum. 1939 – 1945, https://www.warmuseum.ca/collections/artifact/1019615/?q=security+poster&page_num=2&item_num=5&media_irn=4248.

“Knights on Winged Steeds.” Globe and Mail, 22 August 1940. Democracy at War: Canadian Newspapers and the Second World War, Canadian War Museum.

“Menace of the Robot Bomb.” Globe and Mail, 31 July 1944. Democracy at War: Canadian Newspapers and the Second World War, Canadian War Museum.

Nguyen, Linda. “Artist Part of the Golden Age of Canadian Comic Books; Helped to Create this Country’s Superheroes After WWII, Designed Graphics, Logos for Products.” Toronto Star, 2006. ProQuest, https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/docview/ 439026882?pq-origsite=summon.

“Nothing to Fear From Jap Entrey; Men But Robots.” Hamilton Spectator, 11 December 1941. Democracy at War: Canadian Newspapers and the Second World War, Canadian War Museum.

Rhee, Jennifer. “Anatomy of a Robot: Literature, Cinema, and the Cultural Work of Artificial People by Despina Kakoudaki (Review).” Science Fiction Film and Television, vol. 10, no. 3, 2017, pp. 407-412. Project MUSE, https://muse-jhu-edu.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/article/ 674425.


Images in this online exhibition are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.

Commando Comics No. 21: The relation of Heroism and Villainy to the Damsel in Distress

© Vincent Maher 2017, Ryerson University

Introduction

In Commando Comics No.21 ‘Doc Stearne’, written by Fred Kelly (44-50), its story introduces somes stakes that revolves around a select group of characters coming into conflicts with the antagonists, the Imperial Japanese Army, located in Northern Canada. The selected story arc of show how representations assigns the role of both the protagonists and antagonists. What then emerges are the constructions of what those representations show with regards to each character, which is why I would like to delve into how women are shown enhances the construction of heroism. The focus on seeing what is provided within the comic arc would be to take a look at the interactions of the characters in the comic, and take a look as to how they are positioned and drawn. The first step in delving into the representations featured in the story, ‘Doc Stearne’, there are representations that are solely focused on specific groups that limit itself with the division of how gender assigns the roles of the all the characters that exist within this respective story. Three major ones that can be identified within the story are the heroes, villains, and the captive damsel in distress. Each of these three play a role in the story that allows the plot to advance from beginning to end, since each side would continue to act upon their own goals in order for that story’s completion to be certain. Within the content provided in the slides of the comic’s pages, the characters all play their respective roles given by the artists for themes to emerge. Showcasing the Japanese in the comic depiction of a World War II scenario, alongside main protagonists delves into the notion of the comic leaning towards how the theme of heroism is enhanced. That focus on heroism seems to have been centered on the main protagonists in the story, the explorers, with respects to their own goals. “World War II had drastically changed the position of race in comics and, by implication, in America’s popular imagination.” (Lenthall 18.)

The story

For the summarization of the storyline that takes place within ‘Doc Stearne’, it begins and it sets the stage with the introduction of the protagonists and the antagonists. The antagonists, the Japanese, show themselves to set themselves against the main protagonists, by capturing one of the protagonists’ friends. The explorers are now setting themselves in their own goals by chasing after the Japanese that have taken their friend, Gloria. So as that short story begins to move and events continue to unfold, it’s a direct march for the explorers for them to infiltrate the Japanese hideout to save Gloria. To note, Gloria is the only existing female character that exists within the comic, but both the explorers and the Japanese are shown to have only consisted of male characters. There are further questions that are to be taken into account, to ask possibly on how significant these representations are with how the comic has been drawn. To ask these questions would mean to ponder further on why characters are placed in their respective roles, and why their respective roles have come together to interact with one another. ““Historian Bradford Wright has written, “Comic books are history.” As primary sources of popular culture, they have emerged from a specific context, reflecting the politics, prejudices’ and concerns of a particular historical moment. Comics have also shaped the outlook of America’s young people.” (Aiken 1).

Villains and Heroes

The explorers in the story are meant to be a placeholder in the comic’s presentation of to show what the stakes are for the characters. So one question is, how have these representations allowed the comic to display its features on what is villainized and what is praised as the heroic ones? And what other features besides the characters exist in the comic itself? So first things first, there comes the depictions of the drawings and depictions of the explorers. Since the explorers are pinning themselves willingly against the Japanese Kamikaze holdout, they have to be drawn a certain way since they are supposed to be a small band against an entire army that’s awaiting them. Throughout the story, the explorers are drawn as silhouettes, showing their movements as they are in constant motion, appearing rather tense and showing a bit of anger on their faces.

Commando Comics No. 21 “Doc Stearne” January 1946, Bell and Features Publishing, p.47

Since they are moving into a space which they aren’t welcome, they are forced to move into the Japanese hideout since they have had a deed that they had also considered unwelcoming, which came in the form of capturing the explorer’s companion, Gloria. So in return, they are retaliating with brute force, which the strategy that they use to retaliate via an explosion would result in the Japanese hideout going up in flames.

As for the Japanese soldiers that are featured within the comic themselves, they all appear to be tensed up as some of them are preparing to stand guard to defend their own territory. But in addition, since the story is taking place in Northern Canada, they would most likely be making attempts to maintain their location on foreign soil that they don’t belong in. One of the main incentives for them to stand their ground and guard their hideout is due to the fact that they have Gloria in their captivity. And as for Gloria herself, she is the only female character to be drawn into the comic’s story.

Commando Comics No. 21 “Doc Stearne” January 1946, Bell and Features Publishing, p.50

The story would not even begin to move anywhere, nor would it have revealed any of its threats, in this case the Japanese, without Gloria’s initial capture in the beginning of the comic’s story. So this is where ‘Doc Stearne’ and its characters are split up in terms of their roles. The explorers are supposed to represent the heroes fighting to free Gloria, while the Japanese are presented as the villains who are trying to keep Gloria from getting away, as she is shown restrained with her arms tied and lifted above her. This is where we can bring gender into question with regards to determining these roles.

How does Gender fit?

To bring gender into question with relation to this story is, how this comic has distinctively and uniquely presented its own story is how it has been fabricated to display its own messages and themes together in a compressed package. First off, the story is only six pages long, and the rescue mission is shown to be cut away into very quick segments of a single story. Potentially, this comic could have been written to an extent where the writers decide for them to write a fully fleshed out story, but they instead choose the faster path and give us six pages instead. The very interesting distinction that this comic has allowed us to get is how the main protagonists are more hidden behind silhouettes, and yet the antagonist are the ones that possess a face throughout. Also incorporating itself into the presentation of the comics is the results that comes with the ending results of the protagonists and antagonists, with regards to what’s left behind after the progression of the story continues. The actions that are taken by the characters, and who’s shown to have been affected, ultimately comes from the carnage of the environments around them. And keep in mind that these protagonists, though they were shown to display some competency towards wielding weapons, were only explorers and not a league of superheroes, or an elite band of soldiers.

“JAP BEAST AND HIS PLOT TO RAPE THE WORLD” Propaganda Image. Country Press, 1942.

They weren’t obligated to attack the Japanese, since they, as explorers, wouldn’t have wanted to have any sort of conflict with them.

Commando Comics No. 21 “Doc Stearne” January 1946, Bell and Features Publishing, p.45

But now that the Japanese have caused that disturbance to the explorers, it has now marked the two male groups against one another, while the one female character waits to see the end result of whose side she will stay with at the end of the story.

Historical relations and inspiration

So it is now time to connect the dots with the comic and bits and pieces of research to understand the significance of the comic’s featured imagery and its uniqueness of its own story telling format. This is to explore the significance of the previously listed images and drawings from this comic. Let’s start with the Japanese antagonists. Recall that in the story, they have been portrayed as the main driving force against the heroes, and they have been portrayed in a way that makes them look tense, standing guard in their respective positions as they were protecting their hideout. “This preoccupation mixed the unknowns of a complex language, an ‘alien’ race and an ‘exotic’ culture with the response from Europe and America to a rising Asian power and the re-ordering of the world of nineteenth-century empires.” (Everest-Philips 7). With this statement, it relates back to the narrative of the comic with Everest-Philips’ comments on the response of the Imperial Japanese Army and how they had been received previously during the time of the war. This could indicate towards the inspiration that Fred Kelly would have had to draw upon to create the material and drawings, depicting the Japanese in his comic and the reactions that the explorers had with their presence and actions. Furthermore, relating back to the protagonists of the story, the explorers, “Allegations of foreign subversion often play an important part for political leadership in promoting a sense of national unity, clarifying national values and providing a high moral sanction and sense of righteousness.” (Everest-Philips 21). The “righteousness”, the “clarification of national values”, “high moral sanction” connects towards the explorers while the “foreign subversion” is connected towards the drawings of the Japanese in the comic, as a presence being intrusive in attempts to dominate and assert their will and power. Despite the attempt in the comic to showcase the Japanese as dominant figures, they still remained to have been left for the heroes to show their own retaliation on sequences such as page 49 and 50 resulting in a giant fire as the aftermath of their response. Raiding the base to free Gloria paints them as the righteous characters who are fighting against the Japanese who are considered the antagonists of the story as a purging event for them to pay for their intrusion. This also ties in with the tragic event that had put an end to the Second World War: the Atomic bombs being dropped on Japan. “The most powerful symbols of Japan’s defeat were the atomic bombs. It was the sheer scale of the destructiveness of these bombs that anointed the Japanese for ever as victims of the war.” (Shimazu 10). “Due to the highly politicized nature of the atomic bombs as the symbol of extremities — both peace and war — memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have become an internationalized memory of the war.” (10). Due to the fiery exit that the heroes are shown in the comic, as they are walking away with as the victors and with Gloria in their safety. The artists who have created and drawn this comic in 1946 would have had fresh bits and pieces with the fresh highlights of the end of the Second World War just occurring the previous year. In the crafting of this story, making those decisions to draw this story arc would have been influenced by that complete collapse of Japan’s Empire in 1945. The sense of victory and triumph could have been further celebrated with the releases of these comics, in a way, humiliating and tarnishing the image of the former empire, leaving the heroes to be shown as the righteous ones with freeing a character who could not fight for herself.

Conclusion

The chosen representations drawn and written specifically for this short story has been shown as a by-product with responses given an artistic treatment shown by comic artists wishing to capture a piece of the passing war. Depicting these characters in this related story has shown the types of characters that comic artists at the time would have been inspired to draw, and in the case of ‘Doc Stearne’, it has shown that inspiration being brought together into a tightly compressed package. In conclusion, ‘Doc Stearne’ in Commando Comics No. 21 has shown itself to reinforce those values of constructing the image of heroism through gender roles, while ultimately painting the image of a defeated enemy that has had their invasive tyranny come to an end thanks to the efforts of the depicted heroes fighting against that tyranny.


Work Cited 

Aiken, Katherine G. “Superhero History: Using Comic Books to Teach U.S. History.” OAH Magazine of History vol. 24 no. 2, April 2010 pp 41-47.

Everest-Philips, Max. “The Pre-War Fear of Japanese Espionage: Its Impact and Legacy.” Journal of Contemporary History. vol.42 no.2, April 2007, pp. 243-265.

Kelly, Fred. “Doc Stearne” Commando Comics No. 21. January, 1946. pp. 44-50. Bell Features  Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166550.pdf

Lenthall, Bruce. “Outside the Panel – Race in Americaʼs Popular Imagination: Comic Strips before and After World War II.” Journal of American Studies. vol. 32 no.1, April 1998, pp. 39-61.

Shimazu, Naoko. “Popular Representations of the Past: The Case of Postwar Japan.” Journal of Contemporary History vol. 38, no. 1, January 2003 pp. 101-116.


Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.

Dizzy Don and the Pompous Propaganda, Issue 2017

Copyright © 2017 Matthew Perfetti, Ryerson University

Introduction:

By Martin Goodman
Captain America breaking the fourth wall to promote the purchase of War bonds. Martin Goodman. USA Comics #7, 1943

            Propaganda and comics were huge during the 1940’s since it took place during the Second World War.  Dizzy Don, a Canadian comic series created by Manny Easson, and the idea of Carpooling, a way of saving gasoline, were both born during this era.  Because comics were becoming popular and being nearly read by everyone, the government had an idea to incorporate propaganda and comics together, essentially killing two birds with one stone as people tuning into the comics despite not wanting anything to do with propaganda would always have a dose of politics without them noticing.  the characters themselves can be seen behaving in different ways; example Captain America asking readers to buy War bonds to help America win the war.  Dizzy Don, despite being a Canadian comic had done the same thing with their comic issue 13, The Black Gas Racket, promoting the idea that carpooling was the way to go.  I will discuss how Dizzy Don helps promotes the carpooling propaganda through its distinct humorous nature, proving that comics and propaganda did go hand in hand during the war.  “Selling war bonds actually, they used the characters for that purpose, that I defiantly knew they did that, and apparently it was successful because they did quite a bit of that ….. they did a lot of work for the government.” (Carmine Infantino, 2:58 – 3:20)

World War II Rubber Problem and the birth of Carpooling:

Make sure not to ride by yourself or else the Führer will be right next to you. Weimer Pursell. Painted for the U.S. Government Printing Office for the Office of Price Administration, 1943.

            World War II was an advancing time in history, it was an age of competition with other countries, being a step ahead in the war was important but sometimes in order to meet the demand, there had to be limitations.  In the case of the United States, it was actually rubber since it was hard to mass produce.  The means of saving rubber was to produce fewer tires for civilian vehicles and instead focus it all on the tanks and other war machines.  A way of getting around not producing as many car tires was to limit the use of cars themselves; less wear and tear meant fewer people would ask for tire replacements resulting in more rubber for the war.  Instead of going around telling people to stop using rubber, they created the idea that America needed to save gasoline for the war despite oil being plentiful and not difficult to obtain.  They introduced the idea of carpooling, it was basically sharing one vehicle with multiple people that way there would be fewer cars as often since one driver could drive up to five people to work at the same time, essentially getting rid of multiple cars off the road.  Propaganda such as my personal favourite “If you ride alone you ride with Hitler” were effective of getting people to go cruising with their neighbors’ instead of driving by themselves. With the decrease of cars on the road, rubber was no longer a scarce resource, helping America build more tanks and aiding their war efforts immensely; the idea was a complete success.

Dizzy Don’s relation with World War II Propaganda:

On the left we see the Villian being the only driver while on the right we see our Heros driving together. Easson, Manny.”Dizzy Don and the Black Gas Racket”. Funny comics, no. 13 September 1944, pp. 3 and 4

            Dizzy Don was a Canadian comic series known for its comedic nature of its time but also can be seen to have political undertones, more so during World War II.  On 1944’s Issue 13 of Dizzy Don and the Black Racket, Dizzy Don and the gang have to stop a mob of black market thugs trying to sell gasoline illegally.  Seems harmless until you notice all the small hints for promoting the carpooling lifestyle; Dizzy Don is seen always driving never alone but with a group of his friends meanwhile, the villains are always driving by themselves, the crooks also waste gas by blowing up vehicles or setting gasoline tanks on fire just to escape.  The comic doesn’t directly tell but rather visually lets you know that to be a good guy you don’t waste fuel but if you do you’re the bad guy.  It’s a smart technique to help push a motive to society, showing the protagonist perform certain actions will most likely influence fans of the series to do the same.  To say that carpooling paid Manny Easson to feature their propaganda in his comic is hard to say and near impossible to prove nowadays but to think that Manny Easson got influenced by the propaganda itself is quite believable.

The Humor of Dizzy Don:

Ernie Kovacs on the left, Manny Easson in the middle and an early sketch of Dizzy Don on the right. Kocmarek , Ivan. “Easson Find.” Comicbookdaily, Whites Tsunami, WECA Splashes, 10 Dec. 2014,

            Delving into the humor of Dizzy Don, Manny Easson took inspiration of Ernie Kovacs, a famous comedian who pioneered TV comedy today with the Ernie Kovacs show.  The design of Dizzy Don even took inspiration of Kovacs attire, including his stature as well.  Kovacs style of humor was skit based, featuring short plots that were full of humor and quite bizarre, whether it be drowning a scarecrow, women having a drug trip on what to wear, or three apes playing instruments, it was out there, especially for its time.  Easson nailed the style with Dizzy Don, it’s hard to describe it but if you had read Dizzy Don and watched an Ernie Kovacs skit you’d automatically see the resemblance, even down to the characters like Kovacs’ female companion and trusty sidekick in some of his re-occurring skits, the exact same layout as with Dizzy Don.  Dizzy Don’s style of humor was quick and explosive, a lot of stuff would happen all at once but it flowed well enough that the reader wouldn’t get lost in the chaos, similar to that of a Kovacs skit.  Because the humor was fast-paced, subliminal messages can be easily overlooked as each panel wasn’t meant to be viewed for too long since most of the humor came from the obvious visual gag and writing.  This can result in propaganda being merged within the humor itself, such as Dizzy Don’s sidekick, Bill, blows up a gas tank full of fuel resulting in him getting blown up but in an innocent way (not dead, just Looney Tunes style), or just the abundance of car crashes in issue itself, all in done in a slapstick kind of way, but why so many?  Is there a secret message being told? the answer to that question is yes.  Since the issue was dated in 1944, the same time the propaganda regarding fuel conversing and carpooling was huge, also taking into consideration of Easson’s love of American television seen by his appreciation to American stars like Ernie Kovacs, resulting in absorbing more of said advertisement, I can simply say there is a high probability Easson made this issue of Dizzy Don as a means for sharing his opinion with the viewers of his comic.  An author will usually put their thoughts and opinions into their works, mostly hidden through the style, in this case, the humor.  For someone who isn’t into politics, they wouldn’t think much of it but rather view it as just Easson’s style of humor which it is but with a political twist.  Politics and humor have always gone hand to hand, this comic is no exception.

            The Verdict:

What we can take from the information we have learned is that comics and propaganda do work together to help push an idea to the public, more so during the time of WWII.  It was important for comics to do such because it was this time comic books were in its prime, the number of people tuning in to the next issue was astonishing so it made sense to put forms of advertisement within a comic, including propaganda; it was a sure way of getting more people to look.  Manny Easson, a fan of US television shown by his love of Ernie Kovacs style of humor, it would seem possible for his issue 13 of Dizzy Don, The Black Gas Racket, to be centered around carpooling as it was common propaganda during the time of its release.  Perhaps Easson simply wanted to share his ideas, thinking it was right for him to push an idea to help out the soldiers, it was probably the most he can do.  Sadly we can never know for certain if this was intentional or not, despite all the little hints pointing towards that conclusion, nothing can be confirmed.  However, it’s nice to discuss Dizzy Don, it was an underappreciated comic series with a lot of passion put into it; it was sadly swallowed by the much higher budget comics during its time and was overlooked because of it, (it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page).  Hopefully, this research can shed light on a series that has been dead for ages.

The ending page for most Dizzy Don comics, showcasing all the sponsors and other comics from the same company. Easson, Manny.”Dizzy Don and the Black Gas Racket”. Funny comics, no. 13 September 1944, pp. 3 and 4

 


Work cited:

  1. 1. Kelly, Mark. “The Golden Age of Comic Books: Representations of American Culture from the Great Depression to the Cold War.” Epublications, Marquette University, epublications.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=dittman.
  2. Kocmarek , Ivan. “Manny ‘Dizzy Don’ Easson.” Comicbookdaily, Whites Tsunami, WECA Splashes, 11 Apr. 2013, www.comicbookdaily.com/collecting-community/whites-tsunami-weca-splashes/manny-dizzy-don-easson/.
  3. Kocmarek , Ivan. “Easson Find.” Comicbookdaily, Whites Tsunami, WECA Splashes, 10 Dec. 2014, www.comicbookdaily.com/collecting-community/whites-tsunami-weca-splashes/easson-find/.
  4. Long, Tony. “Dec. 1, 1942: Mandatory Gas Rationing, Lots of Whining.” Wired, Conde Nast, 29 Aug. 2017, www.wired.com/2009/11/1201world-war-2-gasoline-rationing/.
  5. Quednau, Rachel. “WWII Carpooling Propaganda.” Strong Towns, Quednau, 8 Oct. 2015, www.strongtowns.org/journal/2015/10/8/wwii-carpooling-propaganda.
  6.  Easson, Manny.”Dizzy Don and the Black Gas Racket”. Funny comics, no. 13 September 1944, pp. 2-3. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://catalogue.library.ryerson.ca/record=b2611399
  7. Viotte, Michel, director. Spider-Man – Once Upon a Time the Super HeroesOnce Upon A Time The Super Heroes , 23 Dec. 2001, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySOOLp_SoDw.

 

The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don no.12 and WWII Propaganda

© Copyright 2017 Simon Mancuso, Ryerson University

The “Canadian Whites” and WWII Propaganda

Introduction

“The Canadian Whites” collection of comics provides a unique window into culture and the political climate during the Second World War. In the WWII era, propaganda played a vital role in contributing to the war effort and influenced the public on a mass scale. Allied governments distributed this pro-war content through a variety of media outlets including films, cartoons, posters and comic books. During the war every available media outlet was re-purposed to serve as a propaganda tool. The Funny Comics With dizzy Don and The Secret Weapon (Issue 12) is an example of a comic intend for children’s entertainment being used as a vehicle to distribute government messaging to citizens across the country. Throughout the comic there are multiple examples of this, ranging from the narrative itself to the illustration of its characters. This analysis will focus on those two aspects examining the depiction of the main antagonist “The Black Hand”, a shadowy and evil figure that although never appears as human in the comic is a symbolic representation of Nazi Germany. As well as the narrative itself which offers a variety of pro-war and pro-government themes that walk a fine line between entertainment and subliminal messaging. The purpose of this analysis is to understand how media and specifically this comic were used by the Canadian government as a distribution platform as well as cheap entertainment for children. A variety of evidence will be used to demonstrate this connection ranging from news articles about the government pressuring authors to insert pro war messaging into their work to Donald Duck and his cartoon commercials asking us to support the troops. The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don is a clear example of a deliberate attempt on behalf of the Canadian government to re-purpose mass media as propaganda tools.

What is Propaganda?

Before analyzing how The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don is being used as a propaganda tool it is important to begin by establishing a definition of the term.  The term propaganda is defined as “any information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.” (Møllegaard, 2012) This definition will be used in this study to refer to a variety of illustrations and narrative themes present in The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don as well as other secondary sources. Traditionally “propaganda” is used as a derogatory term that is often accompanied by malicious intent. However, throughout this analysis a variety of examples of propaganda will be examined, some of which is hateful whereas others are harmless. For example, depictions of women and children being used to sell war bonds is an instance of harmless propaganda. Hateful propaganda occurs when the imagery or texts resort to racism or cultural stereotyping to purposefully demean its target. Examples of both are present throughout the illustration in Secret Weapon Both styles are equally effective at stirring emotional responses from their viewers, the former empathy and the latter hate.

Throughout the Second World War propaganda was a constant presence across a variety of media outlets including posters and news articles and in film where pre-show recruitment ads have become a famous symbol of World War Two era America. It is important to preface this analysis by stating that the goal is not to critique the style and content shown within these comics and posters, but to simply examine the methods in which they are used as tools to distribute a message.

Conspiracy?

The concept of the Canadian government deliberately inserting pro-military and pro-war propaganda into independent media outlets is not beyond the realm of possibility. In fact, it occurred during the Second World War on many occasions. Multiple news articles were published on the topic stating that the Canadian government was putting pressure on local authors to push government messages. In 1940, the Hamilton Spectator published an article titled “Important Task Facing Writers of the Country”. The opening line in the article reads “Canadian writers have the clear and definite duty of keeping the democratic ideal constantly before the nation’s eye.” (Hamilton Spectator, 1940) This article focuses on the responsibility that was placed upon the nations writers to communicate to the country’s youth that they are fighting an honorable and good fight. A second article titled “The Government Propaganda Machine is now in High Gear” written in the same year for the Toronto Telegram, elaborates further on this concept. This article talks about the censorship bureaus established in Ottawa who control the output of content by various media outlets. The article states that “Canadians generally may be unaware that since the outbreak of the war something in the nature of a press bureaucracy has been established in Ottawa. First of all, there are the Press Censors whose. purpose it is to scan carefully whatever is published.” (Toronto Telegram, 1940) The article goes on to talk about a “publicity corps” whose responsibility it was to make sure government messaging is communicated to the public. “Alongside the press censors there is being built up at Ottawa a publicity corps whose job it is to get government announcements and statements of policy in the newspapers.” (Toronto Telegram, 1940)

These two articles are incredibly important when establishing the argument that the Government was manipulating media by controlling what content was published and inserting pro-war messages. The quotes in these articles make reference to specific government organizations such as the “publicity corps” and “Press Censors” tasked with the goal of inserting propaganda messaging into mass media across the country. The existence of these articles establishes a precedent by acknowledging that the government was willing to pressure these independent media organizations. If they were willing to approach newspapers and authors, it’s not irrational to believe they would so the same with comics.

What About Dizzy Don?

Easson, Manny, and Bell Features, editors. The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don: No. 12. Bell Features and Publishing Company Limited, 1944.

Both the illustration and the overarching narrative of The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don and The Secret Weapon support the argument that this comic moonlights as government propaganda. The first example of propaganda within illustration comes through the depiction of the comic’s main antagonist “The Black Hand of Treason”. This character is important for many reasons. Primarily, it’s the driving force behind the story of the comic. This issue of Dizzy Don is less about the victory of its heroes and more about the demonization of its villain, who is frequently described as evil and cowardly throughout. The Black Hand of Treason is not a character in the traditional sense instead of taking the form of an individual it simply appears as a monstrous hand in the story. Because of this, the villain is not portrayed as a person but instead it exists as a symbol. The Black Hand is a symbolic representation of Nazi Germany as explained in the comic when mad scientist Mortimer Midge says, “It is a Nazi group, they want to prevent my secret weapon from being used by our armies” (Easson, 9) When German and Japanese characters are illustrated within the comic their depiction is consistent with the overtly racialized and stereotypical features found in other propaganda imagery such as large ears or buck teeth.  The portrayal of these characters throughout the comic draw direct comparison to government messaging and the illustrations are consistent with traditional propaganda.

The narrative of the comic further supports the idea of comics being re-purposed as propaganda tools. The story follows the adventures of Radio Host Dizzy Don as he gets embroiled in a top-secret plan to develop a machine that will win the war for the allies. Over the course of the story Dizzy repeatedly faces off against the The Black Hand of Treason an organization trying to steal or destroy that machine. Within the first few pages of the comic it is made clear that there isn’t going to be any thoughtful commentary on World War II era politics. Instead its predetermined that the heroes will win, and the bad guys are going to lose. Throughout the story none of the characters confront meaningful adversity and all encounters with the antagonists are quickly shrugged off without much effort. The story wraps up quickly with a perfect happy ending as the allied military put the machine into production and win the war. The comic itself reads more like a recruitment ad than a story. Overall this makes for a boring and linear narrative that presents a black and white portrayal of good and evil and a pro-government, pro-military attitude that is consistent with the propaganda of era.

But How?

The depiction of the Black Hand throughout the comic can be understood as propaganda for many reasons. The purpose of propaganda is to “to influence people’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors” (Møllegaard, 2012) and The Black Hand fulfills these requirements in several ways. The comic influences peoples attitude towards the character by establishing it as the villain. Furthermore, the comic goes out of its way to re-iterate how villainous the Black Hand is by continuously referring to it as evil and cowardly. When comparing that depiction to that of the heroes, who are described as smart, honest and loyal a clear line is drawn between the two sides. The comic is carefully constructed to make the reader hate the Black Hand as a symbol of Nazi Germany. The writers also avoid making any controversial political statements throughout the story, making it clear who the good and the bad guys are. The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don are primarily a joke comic series and “The Black Hand” is always the target of a witty one liner delivered by Dizzy. Whether or not this impacted the behavior of its readers is impossible to say, but the intention to portray them as laughable and incompetent is clear.

Odell, Gordon. “Keep Those Hands Off” Canadian War Museum. 1945

The illustration of “The Black Hand” also has direct connections with war propaganda posters. The poster shown here portrays two monstrous hands enclosing themselves around a woman and her child. This illustration is identical to the depiction of the Black Hand in the comic. Within the hands are German and Japanese symbols, this not only verifies that the Black Hand is a symbol of Nazi Germany but proves there is consistent imagery between the comic and a traditional propaganda poster.

Consistency is one of the most important factors to consider when trying to run a successful propaganda campaign. Ensuring that citizens can quickly relate images seen in posters with illustrations they see in their own living room is important. This is because it allows them to relate to what they are seeing and create emotional connections, whether they be positive or negative. These emotional connections are vital because they spur people to act on their message. For example, if someone saw an ad for war bonds that gave them a strong emotional response they would be more inclined to purchase them. More examples of this can be seen in the comic when examining the depiction of a Japanese character. Although he only appears in one frame and has no dialogue, the overly stereotyped and racially insensitive illustration is similar to the portrayal of Japanese people in World War II era propaganda. The poster below is an example of one of those depictions. The long-pointed ears and buck teeth shown in the poster on the right are features consistent with the illustration in the comic.

Unknown Author. “Tokyo Kid Say” 1945

“The Funny Comics” are not the only instance of cartoon characters being used as vehicles for government propaganda. Iconic characters such as Donald Duck have been used to try and sell war-bonds and send pro-military messages to their viewers. This video is an advertisement run in 1942 in which Donald’s devil side and angel side fight over where he should spend his hard-earned money, on himself or to buy bonds. (notice the evil Nazi mailbox) This proves that children’s cartoons are being used to sell pro-government content.

“The Canadian Whites” comics offer an illuminating view into the state of society and political ideology during the second world war. Based on the precedent established by multiple news outlets and the connections between imagery and themes within the comic to other sources it is clear that the Canadian government utilized a variety of mass media sources, including The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don as a vehicle to distribute propaganda.


Work Cited

  • Canada, National Film Board of. Shameless Propaganda. 2014. www.nfb.ca, https://www.nfb.ca/film/shameless_propaganda/.
  • Easson, Manny, and Bell Features, editors. The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don: No. 12. Bell Features and Publishing Company Limited, 1944.
  • Frohardt-Lane., SARAH. “Promoting a Culture of Driving: Rationing, Car Sharing, and Propaganda in World War II.” Journal of American Studies, vol. 46, no. 2, 2012, p. 337.
  • MacKay, Robin. “49th Parallel: The Art of Propaganda.” Queen’s Quarterly, vol. 123, no. 4, 2016, p. 572.
  • Møllegaard, Kirsten. “Comic Art Propaganda: A Graphic History FredrikStrömberg. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010.” The Journal of American Culture, vol. 35, no. 2, June 2012, p. 192
  • Odell, Gordon. “Keep Those Hands Off” Canadian War Museum. 1945, http://www.warmuseum.ca/collections/artifact/1019599/.
  • The Hamilton Spectator. WarMuseum.ca – Democracy at War – Information, Propaganda, Censorship and the Newspapers. 1940 http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/newspapers/information_e.shtml.
  • Toronto Telegram. “Government Propaganda Machine Now in High Gear.” July 1940
  • Unknown. “Tokyo Kid Say” 1945

Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.

Japanese Representation in World War II Comics -The Funny Comics With Dizzy Don no.17.

© Copyright 2017 Francesca Jamshidy Student, Ryerson University

Japanese Representation in World War II Comics

Introduction

This digital exhibit intends to analyze the historical conflicts between Canada and Japan During World War II, specifically when it came to the media. The rivalry between Japan and Canada is not discussed often when it comes to World War II, but in this exhibit, I want to shine light on how the unflattering portrayal of Japanese characters in “In the Human Rocket” in the series The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don, is connected to the historical context of the conflict between Japan and Canada during World War II. The tension between Canada and Japan is depicted through Easson’s writing style, the way setting is represented in panels surrounding Japanese people and the Japanese characters physical appearance.

Writing Style in World War II Comics

The introduction to the comic is free of tension. There is a quick introduction to all the characters. This is done in order to familiarize new readers with the who is going to be in the story and what their relationship is to one another, from main characters to supporting characters. Unfortunately, after reading through the comic, it is apparent that there is one character which is excluded from the introduction, and that character is Japanese. Not only is this character not introduced, but he is also referred to as “Tokyo Joe” (13), once he is a named, or noted, character. By being referred to as Tokyo Joe, it is made apparent that his character is being “othered” as this distinction separates him from the other generic Canadian characters. In the 1940’s “younger children were preoccupied with many projects” however, “there was a fear that teenagers might be corrupted by the lack of supervision during the war” (Stranger Ross, et at.). By slipping casual racism into remarks that teenagers read, the creators of these comics were exploiting the impressionable minds of teenagers. This implied that it was okay to grow up believing and repeating racist remarks. An example of this is on page 13 when the only Japanese character is referred to as the “Stooges of Japan”, which was another form of calling him stupid. During the Second World War “Canadian policies emerged from the war… [exemplifying] long- standing racism” (Stranger-Ross, et al.), which later reflected upon not only comics but other forms of media as well. Within Easson’s work, it is evident that racism is encouraged. Tokyo Joe is only given the chance to speak once during the entire comic and the one time he speaks he is grammatically incorrect. Rather than saying “It’s not so easy my friend” instead he says “No so easy, my friend” (13), insinuating that Tokyo Joe is the only character with an accent or an inability to speak without grammatical errors. These details used to write the comic are ultimately meant to show the difference between Japan and Canada. What many Canadians didn’t know according to the article “Government Propaganda Machine Is Now in High Gear” (1940), is that during the time period that the comic issue was made there was pressed censorship. People carefully looked through work from articles to books and continued to do that during the war, in order to make sure nothing was written to comfort the enemy. This showed how controlled the media was during this time period. This also included comics, with this information it now makes sense as to why the only Japanese character was portrayed unfairly by Manny Easson. Japan was considered the enemy that the Canadian Government wanted to scare.

Background Settings

When reading a comic, a character’s physical appearance stands out right away, what many do not realize is that the background and setting of an image can subconsciously manipulate and infer/alter things into a certain perspective. When looking at “In the Human Rocket”, and analyzing the background setting within images, there is an automatic and clear switch between the backgrounds of characters depending on where they are from. Since this essay is examining the relationship between Japan and Canada, the first thing that was automatically analyzed was the background setting behind the only character that was not Canadian. When looking at the background setting of the only character not from Canada within the comic it is quite evident that his ethnicity is overly expressed through his surrounding in order to alienate him from every other character in the comic. Looking at the picture on the

Fig.1. Manny, Easson. Panel from “In the Human Rocket.” The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don, No. 17, April 1945, Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada, p.13. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/ e011166608.pdf

left (Figure 1) taken from Manny Easson comic “In the Human Rocket” in the series The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don (13), right away one can see that “Tokyo Joe” has a picture of a sun symbolizing the Japanese flag and a dragon on his table cloth, both details placed in the background automatically let readers know that he is from Japan and not like the other character. On the same page in the 4th panel Easson zooms into Tokyo Joe with only the sun beams from the image behind him
showing, nothing more, as if to infer the only attribute and supporting information to him is his ethnicity, leaving readers with only two things, he is the villain in this comic and he is Japanese. What aids this theory that background, and settings are purposely placed and drawn in images in order to support the negative portrayal and alienation of Japanese people in this time period, is that it is an on-going trend, the portrayal in this comic is not an isolated incident, it happened throughout many forms of media. Below on the left there is a propaganda poster found on “Canadian Propaganda Posters” Mystery in History, published online in 2014 this website had posters from Canada during the second World War. Automatically when comparing the comic to this poster (Figure 2)

Fig.2. “This Is the Enemy”, “Canadian Propaganda Posters.” Mystery in History, June 2014, collected at https://mysteryinhistory.wordpress.com/2
014/06/10/canadian-propaganda-posters/
Fig.3. Manny, Easson. Panel from “In the Human Rocket.” The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don, No. 17, April 1945, Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada, p.35. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e44
7/e011166608.pdf

it is glaring to note that they were created by different artists yet they both have the same things in common, the sun rays signifying that this person is of Japanese descent and a negative portrayal of the character/person of Japanese descent. This was clearly not a coincidence but rather a tool to ensure Canadians feared Japanese people. This fear turned into a hatred because during the Second World War since Japanese people were considered the enemy “22,000 Japanese Canadians were uprooted from their homes, separated from their families, and sent away to camps” (Government Apologizes, 1988). Sadly, these people were being punished for simply being of Japanese descent although they were Canadian citizens, and many were even born and raised in Canada that was still not enough. When comparing this to Manny Easson’s illustrations, attention can quickly be brought to the only other image drawn of Tokyo Joe (Figure 3). In this image Tokyo Joe is behind bars (35). He could have been placed in any setting, perhaps at the police station or an interrogation room but instead he is last seen in jail. His imprisonment is a direct correlation to Japanese Canadians being sent to camps because that was a form of their own torture and jail. This is relevant because the jail setting showed a negative portrayal of the only Japanese character within the comic. By having the last image of Tokyo Joe being behind bars it is also arguably a comforting image as he is seen as less of a threat, providing a sense of closure to the previously established impressionable minds, since the enemy is depicted to be “contained”. This ultimately proves through background and setting, Japanese people were being targeted in many forms of media, this comic included, due to the tension between Canada and Japan during World War II.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Physical Characteristics

Unfortunately, things did not simply end with settings and backgrounds but rather got worse when it came to physical characteristics of Japanese people. When looking at “In the Human Rocket” the physical appearance of Tokyo Joe in comparison to everyone else is significantly different, not just in terms of historically accurate physical differences. According to the “Canadian Propaganda Posters,” Mystery in History (2014), stereo-types were exaggerated in the propaganda posters and in the media when it came to Japanese people.

Fig.4. “Tokio Kid”, “Canadian Propaganda Posters.” Mystery in History, June 2014, collected at https://mysteryinhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/
10/canadian-propaganda-posters/

This exaggeration can be seen from teeth to eyes, even their ears were made fun of. In the poster above (Figure 4) published by “Canadian Propaganda Posters” (2014), the man shown is by far the most terrifying thing at first sight. When analyzing he does not look anything like a human but instead he is portrayed as an animal. He has sharp pointy fangs, small eyes that need glasses, extremely pointy ears and claws. In addition, once again this poster shows the man has a hat with sun ray beams in order to let everyone who sees this poster know that the terrifying man within this image is Japanese. When analyzing the Tokyo Joe in the comic, differences were noted in comparison to other characters. Examples of this are that out of the two villains in the comic Tokyo Joe is dressed in all black signifying darkness just like all the other portrayals of Japanese people. His mouth if looked at closely can be seen in an upside-down position rather than smiling. If given the chance to smile it could have shown a different outlook on him because people tend to be more appealing and inviting when they smile. But due to his constant frowning Easson was solely able to create a negative atmosphere for his character. Just like the poster he isn’t given a specific age but with the over exaggerated wrinkles one could assume he is prehistoric, lastly, he is the only character in the entire comic given glasses, supporting the stereotype of an inability to see. These physical characteristics are not only disgusting and incorrect, they are also a deliberate way to show that the portrayal of the Japanese culture and beauty is not celebrated but rather mocked.

Conclusion the “So What”

In conclusion, this exhibit intended to analyze how the unflattering portrayal of Japanese characters in “In the Human Rocket” in the series The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don, was due to the tension between Canada and Japan during World War II. The war and the comic connected to one another because they were created during the same time period. It was also intended to analyze how the tension was deep rooted and how due to the negative portrayal of Japanese people, Canada’s fear had quickly turned into prejudice and anger, leading to the horrible events that occurred and affected many Japanese-Canadians. This was shown by many artists in many forms of media during the 1940’s, including Manny Easson’s work. Through his writing style, the way he drew the settings around those of Japanese descent and the overall illustration of Japanese characters, with specific detailing to their physical appearances, his work as well as many others proved my theory that the comic was used in combinations with other media platforms intending to encourage a prejudice against people of Japanese descent. It is also quite evident after analyzing different media forms that Japanese people were villainized whether through animalistic representations to being made the enemy which needed to be put behind bars to ensure a feeling of safety during the hard times when Canada was at war.

 


 Works Cited

“Canadian Propaganda Posters.” Mystery In History, June 2014, mysteryinhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/canadian-propaganda-posters/.

Cook, Tim. “Canadian Children and The Second World War.” Historica Canada, December 2016, www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/canadian-children-and-wwii/.

Easson, M. “In the Human Rocket.” The Funny Comics with Dizzy Don, no. 17, April, 1945, pp.1-35. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

“Governments Propaganda Machine Is Now in High Gear.” The Toronto Telegram, Canadian War Museum, July 1940, http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/newspapers/information_e.shtml

Stranger-Ross, Jordan., & Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective. “Suspect Properties: The Vancouver Origins of the Forced Sale of Japanese-Canadian-owned Property, WWII.” Journal of Planning History, vol. 15, no. 4, February 2016, pp. 271-89. https://doi- org.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/10.1177%2F1538513215627837

“Tokio Kid”, “Canadian Propaganda Posters.” Mystery In History, June 2014,  mysteryinhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/canadian-propaganda-posters/.

“This Is the Enemy”, “Canadian Propaganda Posters.” Mystery In History, June 2014, mysteryinhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/canadian-propaganda-posters/.

“1988: Government Apologizes to Japanese Canadians – CBC Archives.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, March 2017, www.cbc.ca/archives/entry/1988-government-apologizes-to- japanese-canadians.

Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.

Manipulation by Media

Children are easily manipulated as they are seen as innocent and naive. Children do not have the education to learn what the real reason is behind the madness that occurs every day. Events will happen all over the world and children will not be capable to grasp a proper understanding as to why it is happening. This is solely due to the lack of education on history. A major historic event that had a change in the world, was World War II in 1939. World War II made an impact on everyone all around the world especially in the media, as it was largely impacted. During this time, comics were very popular and they contained many different stories that were targeted towards war. A comic would show an example of how children were not being properly taught about an event. The use of racism, violence, and hatred was incorporated negatively in these comics. In my comic, there was an advertisement for war stamps that involved the illustration of Adolph Hitler. My comic found on page 15 of WOW Comics issue No. 10 (1945). Specifically focused on the aim for children to purchase war stamps. The purchase of war stamps was easier to persuade to children due to their age and young mentality. The sales of war stamps are one of the factors which helped fund the war, for it was important to keep the children engaged in purchasing. Depending on the perspective, this comic advertisement can be interpreted as a deeper meaning. This can be proven through the history presented, the illustrations, the vocabulary used and the dramatic events which unfolded in front of children in World War II.

Children and History: Historic Childhood Novelty

I found that the history of World War II was very effective while looking at this comic advertisement. Without looking into the history one would not be able to prove that children were very under-educated and manipulated. The media was able to target children with the use of comics and toys. Children have been targeted for many years, but it was most prominent during World War II because leaders found them to be more vulnerable (Martin Armstrong, 2014). In comparison to adults, children retain more information because they are continuously developing their own personalities and mentalities (David Machin and Theo Van Leeuwen, 2009). Children were targeted in this comic to purchase war stamps, however, they believed that by doing so they were helping fund the war for their nation. The message that they received was positive, as they were helping their families who were within the battle. At an impressionable age and with the passion to be involved, these children tried to come up with any way to make money. With whatever they earned, they would bring it to their school to purchase War Savings Stamps which they pinned into special booklets for post-war redemption. This created an appealing goal for them, by being able to fill and keep track of their unique stamps! Along with the mixed messages, there was the horrible bribery of the children that I found quite appalling. “Children learned to recycle and collect materials, such as metal, rubber, fat, and grease, which were reused to produce useful products for the war. In return for the children’s labour, different incentives were offered to the children such as free passes to the movies” (Veterans Affairs Canada, 2017). Apart from free movie screenings, children enjoyed playing with different toys in their free time. Toys were made to resemble the war; even today I still see these toys exist. These toys can consist of miniature soldiers, plastic machine guns, replica grenades and the full attire (David Machin and Theo Van Leeuwen, 2009). These toys would intrigue children, in relation to the plastic guns, those are not toys, even if they are plastic. These toys would intrigue a child and become an object of enjoyment, as opposed, to teaching them what their real purpose is, which is to injure and kill people. What I immediately thought was how boys-not girls because there was more sexism towards girls if they were caught wanting to play with these war toys; this could resemble their family that was out fighting for their lives. Young boys want to be able to follow in their parent’s footsteps, usually their fathers, which would make these toys more appealing. Further, into the research, it brought me to an article based on a true story made into a comic, about a young girl named  Hansi who loved the Swastika symbol (Figure 2).

This is something I found to be extremely inappropriate for a child to love. The Swastika symbol is the official emblem of the Nazi party and a symbol that holds a meaning of hatred. The Hansi comic book was part of a series of biographies of famous Christians in the 1970s. The Christian comic book was based on the autobiography of Maria Anne Hirschmann, who lived through World War II as a victim of the Germans propaganda (Comic Alliance Staff, 2010). She was an avid believer in the Bible, but then found herself intrigued and interested in the swastika.It was concerning as it is found unusual of such difference in an interest into something which negatively impacted the world. Further with age, she then returned back to her Christian faith.It was obvious the moral behind this comic, as it is showing you that your faith will always be there for you even when you do not realize it. By looking back on the history of World War II, I am able to further prove the point that children did not receive the proper education. If they had, these children would not want to resemble the toys they played with to war, misunderstand comics for wanting to help with the war and have a young girl who loved the swastika.

 

Illustration: Visual Stimulation 

I further my research on my topic by looking into the illustrations displayed in my comic advertisement. This comic I found was unique in the use of illustration, especially when looking at Hitler’s expression while he is saluting. The facial reaction displayed on Adolph Hitler plays a large part in the advertisement (Figure 3). Looking at his face is unsettling, we are not exactly sure how Hitler is feeling. Hitler looks disappointed when he is giving authority by saluting yet, he is not exactly proud of himself. He also looks guilty. When we see realistic photographs of Hitler, his face is usually flat and he has no emotion shown on his face. However, this comic shows him looking vulnerable and upset. This I find has a major effect on children because it will have the emotional grab; he does not look happy with what he is doing so why would someone else want to follow in his footsteps? It is also seen Hitler holding a swastika in his hand. My findings concluded that the swastika connected with the story of the young girl who loved the swastika symbol. This adds to the fact that children were easily manipulated through illustrations; most likely finding the symbol appealing because they would not understand the meaning behind it. Looking further into the illustration we can take notice of a solider showing force against Hitler. This I found portrayed violence, which should not be portrayed to young children. I think children should see that violence is not something that we approve, yet, this comic is showing our soldiers being violent towards one of the most notorious people in history. It is quite a contradicting illustration when discussing the impact of illustrations affecting children. Although they are young, this is the time their minds start to process information and remember things that they see such as the illustration in this comic. A child finds illustrations more appealing than vocabulary. However, in order for comics to be appealing to the young crowd, the illustrators had to use images rather than vocabulary to catch the individuals eye and have a reminding effect.

Vocabulary: Cunning Persuasion 

Lastly, a strong form of manipulation used throughout this comic is the vocabulary. There are two words that stand out to myself and those words are “heed” and “breed”. Heed is a word that expresses obedience, but also indicates a warning in this comic. Once defining this term and delving deeper into the meaning of it, I realized you have to pay attention to small details in the comic. I looked carefully at this and realized the word heed is used in an intentional way. I needed to focus on the main idea in this comic, which is Hitler. I paid more attention to him after this because what he did throughout his life was not right. His “breed,” aka the Germans, though they were doing good, but when we actually pay attention to the reality of it all, we know that Hitler was trying to create racial purity. In my article, the communicating text starts with: “A jerk called Adolph” which indicates that they are trying to keep an appropriate word for children instead of using a  vulgar term (Figure 4).

This portrays to the child that the term “jerk” would be a bad word, but not too bad as to reveal Hitler. In the verse following, “was once a kid” this removes Hitler’s scary nature, allowing children to feel somewhat empathetic. Thus, thinking that he was once like them being weak and vulnerable. Also, without caution to children of Hitler’s true nature, they might desire to be like him one day. Following that in the text, “But, when he grew up  just look what he did!” It is implying that the reader would know “what he did” and assumes they would share the same assessment as the comic author. Furthermore, the text says: “Now you” which is speaking directly to the reader of the comic. Also, reverting back to words spoke earlier which were: “can help destroy his breed,” which refers to Hitler’s mission which was to destroy the Jewish people. The ‘you’ in this ad is aimed at its readers to destroy Hitler’s breed. Hitler is known for his wanting to destroy the Jewish. There is a fine line between us attacking Hitler like, he is attacking the Jewish, it is displayed in this ad that we need to destroy his “breed” which does not equal justice. The comic displays Germans as a “breed,” just like animals, they are just something to be killed off as if they do not have to mean. We should not intend to equal the violence, we should show children that we want peace. Lastly, is the quote:  “if these words you will but heed… Buy War Stamps!” This is now trying to persuade its reader into thinking that they must buy these war stamps. The vocabulary in this comic advertisement was very particular, they added the persuasion, the double meaning and the second person perspective (WOW Comic, 1949).

In conclusion, I prove that the media has a large effect on children who lived through World War II. This was shown with the use of the historical information gathered through research of war stamps, as children paid and collected these stamps to help fund the war. The stamps were particularly advertised to children, as they were easy to persuade due to their age and passion for involvement. Secondly, toys which represented different war items allowed a child to have an imagination and feel like their mothers and fathers, who of which did their part to help the war. The true story of Hansi, allows us to understand the meaningful power of the swastika and that person’s faith will always follow them. Moreover, by looking at the illustration displayed in the comic, Hitlers image and expression is evident in showing a negative perspective. As well as, the vocabulary used, which allowed us to see many different aspects being persuasion, double meaning and the perspectives directed. Overall, comics had a lot of impacts, not only on the innocent young boys and girls but also in the aspect of how it portrayed media throughout the event of World War II.

Work Cited

Comic Alliance Staff “Comic Art Propaganda Explored: ‘Hansi The Girl Who Loved the Swastika’.” ComicsAlliance, 17 July 2010, comicsalliance.com/comic-art-propaganda-explored-hansi-the-girl-who-loved-the-swa/

Canada, Veterans Affairs. “Canadian Youth – Growing up in Wartime.” Veterans Affairs Canada, Government of Canada, 24 Mar. 2017, www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/historical-sheets/youth.

David Machin, Theo Van Leeuwen. “Toys as discourse: children’s war toys and the war on terror.” Toys as discourse: Children’s war toys and the war on terror | Critical Discourse Studies Vol. 6, No.1, February 2009, 51-63

Martin Armstrong. “Propaganda & Children – Always the First Target of Leaders.” Propaganda & Children – Always the First Target of Leaders | Armstrong Economics, www.armstrongeconomics.com/uncategorized/propaganda-children-always-the-first-target-of-leaders/.

Stacy Gillis, Emma Short. “Children’s experiences of World War One.” The British Library, The British Library, 20 Jan. 2014, www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/childrens-experiences-of-world-war-one.

Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.

The Reality of Indigenous People

Copyright 2017 Sarah Patriarca, Ryerson University

Introduction

During World War II, the family dynamic in Canada changed as fathers and brothers went off to fight in the war while the women were left to not only tend to the children, but also take over occupations typically held by males. As children were more or less left in the dark, the rise of comics provided Canadian children with a new source of entertainment. The comics illustrated different super heroes and plots based around the war at the time. Most of these stories included crude stories or depictions of events that helped the children to better understand what was going on without revealing too much for them to worry. In retrospect, the comics are a very good distraction to these kids. However, looking at the comics now as young adults, we can clearly see the crude humor of racism, and the facts of the war are displayed throughout these comics. In my comic, Wow Comic Issue. 16, there was one comic in particular that illustrated crude humour towards Indigenous people specifically. The specific comic I will be looking at is the “Jeff Warring” comic that uses the character of an Indigenous man and native setting to represent the Indigenous people in a certain way.  The research question I will be analyzing will be: How are the Indigenous People displayed in the comics? I believe that this comic displays Indigenous people as inferior to European Canadians, which in turn makes the audience perceive them in a different way. By using the simplistic language and illustrations of the comic, I will be able to show the difference between both characters. This topic will not only shed some light on how First Nations were seen as, but also give some perspective against stereotypical beliefs. Over the years, the First Nations of Canada have been characterized in a certain way that depict stereotypes and representations that are false, usually made by European Canadians.

 

European Canadians vs. Indigenous Canadians

In addition, the relationship between Indigenous Canadians and European Canadians are both the same in reality and in the comic. This relationship can be seen throughout the comic with the use of its illustrations and the text from speech/thought bubbles to analyze it more closely. In examining this, the reader can see that the European Canadian seems to have a speech of a superior tone over the Indigenous Canadian. The speech shown in the comic can be seen as very simplistic once the First Nation talks compared to when the European Canadian talks. For example, in my comic Jeff Warring would be considered as the European Canadian whereas the Chief of the tribe would be considered to be the Indigenous person. Throughout the entire comic, Jeff Warring speaks down toward the Chief in a condescending manner. It is also good to notice that the speech bubbles when Jeff Warring is talking contains more words, whereas the Chief have very little to no words involved in the speech bubble. Another way of looking at the difference between both races would be through the illustrations provided in the comic. The illustrations and the speech bubbles help the audience to see the difference of both characters when analyzing it. These very small details that show the comparison between both races. The illustrations are built to tell the viewer the story, while also building up knowledge for the reader as well. However, there are other stories that involve Indigenous people that are not

Source: Native American Heroes in the Comics: An Overview (Part 1), Kevin Breen, Blue Corn Comics (2005). © Whitman Publishing Company; 1st Edition (1940)

as inferior to European Canadians. In some comics, the Indigenous people are seen as doctors, business people and other higher positions in occupations (Dither and Larsen, 2010). This shift of representations displays how Indigenous people helped out in the war, even though this is rarely shown in history. On the contrary, there is one example where the comic displays the Indigenous person in more of a popular demand than the European Canadian character. The comic examines a Native hero, Big Chief Woohoo. Originally, he first appeared alongside a European Canadian hero named Gusto, however soon after Big Chief Woohoo, got the lead role in his own comic. Although, in this perspective, the Indigenous character was seen as superior over the European Canadian characters, the reasoning why Big Chief Woohoo became so popular was because of pop culture’s stereotypical approach towards Indigenous people. It is noted that “He fit the role of the ignorant savage” (Breen 2005) and much of the reason he became so popular is because the author made him ignorant to technology. This is a great example of the use of using illustrations and simplistic language to help depict a character. The only reason his character became a favorite to the audience is because of the crude humor and illustrations that made him seem inferior to a white character like Gusto. “You couldn’t find a better example of the ignorant savage than Wahoo. Besides the language cited above, the way he wrote letters in pictures, and his attempts to ride a car like a horse.” (Breen, 2005).  Even though, Big Chief Woohoo, is seen as superior to Gusto, he only became popular because his character lacked knowledge that supposedly more European Canadian’s have. The illustrations in the Jeff Warring comic specifically, reflect this approach in the differentiation of both races.

 

Stereotypes in Appearance: What Do You Think?

Furthermore, the illustrations in the comic help to support the case of how Indigenous people are perceived to its wider audience. The illustrations aid the reader to look deeper into the meaning of the comic and pick out certain characteristics that stand out when looking at the relationship between European Canadians and Indigenous people. When looking at the comic character of Jeff Warring and the Chief, the audience can see that the relation between both characters are very different. The comic displays Jeff Warring has an average looking man, with appealing features that captures the eyes of the audience. While in comparison, the

Murray Karn. Panel from “Jeff Warring.” Wow Comics, No. 16, August 1943, Bell Features and Publishing Company: http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166678.pdf

Chief is made to look non appealing, with features that get overlooked. When looking at the comic now, the reader can see that the illustrations tend to favour the appearance of a stereotypical Indigenous persona, and also display stereotypical movements in the illustrations of how they would have acted. This misinterpretation and inappropriate facts used against Native Americans shifts the audience’s perception on how they are viewed. Comic books, specifically a part of Pop Culture, details the prominence of anti-Indianism in comic books, particularly as means through which Euro-American authors and audiences have made claims on and through Indianness (King, 2008).  The audience when viewing the comic, takes the illustrations of the comic and reads in between the lines and perceives in a way that makes sense to them. For example, if the Chief is displayed with a racial appearance that goes with the stereotypes, as seen in the picture below, then the audience will see the Indigenous Chief in that manner because it was handed to them. These illustrations prove that our perceptions are made based on what the media shows us. In particular, the media and general sources, such as Encyclopedia’s and news documents, only display the negative aspects of the Indigenous people’s history and their war efforts as well.

 

Are the Media and the Government the Real Culprits?

Moreover, when researching this paper, I took note that most of the information about Indigenous people’s efforts in the war were erased from the mass media. This became very problematic when dealing with this topic because sources for this essay became scarce. In the perspective of the audience, this becomes an issue because lack of information means that many readers are not educated on actual facts. Instead, the media are sources that display these stereotypical approaches, which is the only thing the people know. We as millennials know in the 21st century, the mass media has become one that encompasses all knowledge and is used in everyday activities. As the people, we cannot deny that the media is a very powerful thing that can control how people perceive the world. In particular, history is effective and powerful, as we have come to realize with past historian rulers, whether they produced positive or negative impacts. However, in regards to Indigenous people in the media, it has been left out in majority of sources that Indigenous people did aid in wartimes. However, North American resources have wiped out majority of their efforts and in turn, shifting all the contributions on to the European Canadians, glorifying them in a sense. This is a problematic aspect because society forms a stigma and stereotypical approach to the Indigenous people rather than educating themselves. “The paper concludes that it is a responsibility of society to educate all students to understand that any portrayal of history comes from a particular vantage point and to understand that dominant society privileges some representations and disadvantages others” (Iseke-Barnes, 2005). People lose out on greater knowledge when the government decides to erase their efforts from the mass media. More so, the government is part of the blame for the stereotypical and prejudice the Indigenous people face in the comic, and in reality. In particular, what I have observed from my comic, is that women play a huge role in part of the prejudice that is associated with the Indigenous people. Looking at the comic from a child’s perspective, it can be

Murray Karn. Panel from “Jeff Warring.” Wow Comics, No. 16, August 1943, Bell Features and Publishing Company: http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166678.pdf

seen that there could be a romantic association with Jeff Warring and the Chief daughter, Tana, who is the main female character apart of the comic. However, looking at the comic through the lens of a researcher, you can observe that the relationship between Jeff Warring and Tana is submissive and dominant. Tana’s character goes against her own father, to help Jeff Warring escape and fight against her own kind. This can be related to the events of a women named Dorothy Chartrand, who was a part of the Metis tribe and had to be a service woman because her husband joined the war. In this journal article, she recounts her experience and the reasons she joined, as well as how she was treated and discriminated for her race. Her “grandmother’s teachings about oppression and its operation in the lives of Métis” in which she described the role of government to take away “your pride, your dignity, [and] all the things that make you a living soul. When they are sure they have everything, they give you a blanket to cover your shame” (Iseke and Leisa, 2013). They explain how even though their efforts were purely voluntary and not paid, the government still discriminated against them. This point in time, really shaped the lives of these women and were a critical point for these Indigenous women. The character Tana was stripped of everything, and aided Jeff Warring. In relation to the mass media, pop culture makes it so that when we perceive it as an audience, we see it as two characters falling in love, when in actuality it has a deeper meaning that children reading these comics will not understand. Children at a young age reading these comics take that interpretation and bring the stereotypical information with them into their adolescent and adult years.

 

Conclusion

To conclude, there is a very big separation between European Canadians and Indigenous Canadians that an observer can see in the comic and in reality. In particular, to the Jeff Warring comic story in Wow Comics, we can see this relationship when looking at both illustrations and speech bubbles that are in the comic issue. The speech bubble’s that the Chief uses is more simplistic language, whereas the European Canadian, Jeff Warring uses more terminology that can make the audience see the superior and inferior complex between both characters. The illustrations are used to make Jeff Warring appealing to the eye, whereas the Chief is the latter, which creates an image in the audience’s head of what Indigenous people are supposed to look like. The audience can take note that the mass media and government play a huge role in how we interpret Indigenous people. Due to the fact that there are no records of Indigenous people which makes people have a lack of knowledge when it comes to the topic. As well, the observer can notice that the relationship between women and government, is related to Jeff Warring and Tana, which can seem to be romantic when in actuality it is something far greater. In result, with the use of illustrations and simplistic language in the comic, we can see the meaning behind the superior and inferior relationship between European and Indigenous Canadians. Indigenous people are seen to be inferior, that even with the efforts of being portrayed in a comic, popularity will always be predominant for the European Canadian.

 

Work Cited

Dither , Jason, and Soren Larsen. “Originality and the Arctic North in Canadian Nationalist Superhero Comics, 1940-2004.” Originality and the Arctic North in Canadian Nationalist Superhero Comics, 1940-2004, 2010.

Judy, Iseke M., and Desmoulins A. Leisa. “Critical Events: Metis Servicewomen’s WWII Stories with Dorothy Chartrand .” The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, vol. 33, no. 2, 2013, pp. 29–54. Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database.

King, C. Richard. “Alter/Native Heroes: Native Americans, Comic Books, and the Struggle for Self-Definition.” Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies, vol. 9, no. 2, 31 Dec. 2008, pp. 214–223., doi:10.1177/1532708608330259.

Iseke-Barnes, Judy. “Misrepresentations of Indigenous History and Science: Public Broadcasting, the Internet, and Education.” Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 26.2 (2005): 149-65. Web. 11 Nov. 2017

Breen, Kevin. “Native American Heroes in the Comics: An Overview (Part 1).” Blue Corn Comics — Native American Heroes in the Comics:  An Overview (Part 1), Blue Corn Comics, 28 Sept. 2005, www.bluecorncomics.com/kbreen.htm.

 

Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.